Oregonians Fight to Block Coal Exports

Oregonians from across the state rally against coal exports at a State Land Board meeting in Salem, April 9 2012. Photo by Gregory Sotir

Oregon’s voice against coal exports is getting louder!  On the morning of April 9 in Salem, over 100 Oregonians from all corners of the state rallied outside the Oregon State Lands Board meeting to send a message to Governor Kitzhaber and other state decision-makers to reject dirty coal exports.  The event was a huge success, covered by regional and local television, radio and print media, and reflecting the geographic diversity of the opposition to coal export from Coos Bay to the Columbia Gorge, and communities in between.

Coal export is a statewide and regional issue that demands leadership from Oregon’s key decision-makers. Currently, the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) is considering issuing a permit for a proposed coal export dock at the Port of Morrow on the Columbia River. The US Army Corps of Engineers is taking public comment on the same proposal until May 5 (click here to comment).

The press conference highlighted voices from several areas of Oregon that would be affected, providing different perspectives on the impacts dirty coal trains and barges would have on Oregonians’ health, environment, and quality of life.  People gathered from the Portland area, Gorge communities, Eugene, Salem, and Southern Oregon cities.  The rally featured the “coal monster” costume, colorful signs highlighting where they were from and their perspective as a parent, health professional, business owner, etc.  The gathering also featured over 7,000 comments from around the state calling for Governor Kitzhaber and Director of the Department of State Lands (DSL) Louise Solliday to reject coal exports.

Speakers at the rally in Salem included David Petrie, Coos Tribal member and director of Coos Waterkeeper in Coos Bay, the site of proposed coal terminal enshrouded in secrecy;  Peter Cornelison from Friends of the Columbia Gorge in Hood River, which would impacted by proposals to ship coal by rail and barge to ports further downstream; Duncan MacKenzie, an industrial designer from Rainier, a town which would be bisected by coal train traffic;  and Andy Harris, a medical doctor representing Physicians for Social Responsibility.

The strong showing in Salem from anti-coal export activists and affected community members from across the state is just the beginning of a growing statewide voice opposed to coal exports in Oregon.

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