Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Local Weather

Cloudy

70°F

Portland

Cloudy

Humidity: 63%

Wind: 5 mph

  • 16 Sep 2014

    Mostly Cloudy 78°F 59°F

  • 17 Sep 2014

    Mostly Cloudy 83°F 61°F


NW officials to Kitzhaber: Deny coal project permit

Ambre Energy has requested that the state delay its decision whether to permit the Morrow Pacific coal export proposal along the Columbia River.

It is the group's seventh request for delay in two years from the Oregon Department of State Lands.

The Morrow Pacific project will ship 8.8 million tons of coal through the Columbia River and on to Asia.

The nonprofit Power Past Coal coalition and the Sierra Club are urging Gov. John Kitzhaber and the Oregon Department of State Lands to deny Ambre Energy’s permit that would allow their Morrow Pacific project to progress.

Prompted by constituents’ voices, a group of 86 elected officials from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana have written a plea citing the impact coal will have on air and water quality, wildlife habitats and public health and safety not only near the port communities but expanding further into the Pacific Northwest region.

“We urge you to deny Ambre’s removal-fill permit because coal export is not consistent with the protection, conservation and best use of the state’s water resources,” according to the letter, which can be read here: docs.google.com/file/d/0BwIXiaj8LQ3GSE1yTG9HcWhmYW8/edit .

Concerns span Morrow Pacific’s effect on windsurf tourism to agriculture to salmon populations.

“The extra traffic and pollution in the river from inevitable coal contamination will not only have a detrimental effect on key salmon and fish populations but also on the humans who live on the shore,” said Arlene Burns, city council president from Mosier, a town along the Gorge in Oregon. “This is a very short-sighted endeavor, especially with the dramatic effects that we are already experiencing due to carbon emissions and climate change.”

“The burning of coal, anywhere on this planet, is badly exacerbating the single biggest long-term problem facing any of our cities,” said Mark Gamba, a Milwaukie city councilor. “All of the signers of this letter are asking the governor to step away from ‘business as usual’ and do everything in his power to keep dangerous coal export projects from happening.”

On March 25, the Power Past Coal coalition held a "people’s hearing" downtown, which they say attracted 500 attendees in opposition. Power Past Coal says more than 20,000 citizens contacted Kitzhaber, as well as more than 2,000 medical professionals and public health advocates. The coalition says 600 Northwest businesses have expressed concern or opposition, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality received 16,500 public comments on Ambre’s proposal, a record-breaking number of participants.

Since winning three approvals from the Oregon DEQ, Ambre Energy faced a March 31 deadline to submit information for the fourth permit needed, the 401 Water Quality Certification, in an attempt to gain the removal-fill permit.

Julia Rogers can be reached at 503-546-5137 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Like Sustainable Life on Facebook at www.facebook.com/portland.sustainable.life.

Follow me on Twitter! twitter.com/JuliaJayRogers