Oregon Denies Permit For Controversial Coal Export Dock

EarthFix · Oregon Public Broadcasting, August 18, 2014
By Cassandra Profita

Oregon regulators announced Monday they will not issue a permit for a controversial coal export dock in Boardman.

The announcement follows a fight between the Morrow Pacific coal export project developer Ambre Energy and Columbia River tribes over tribal fishing at the proposed dock site.

Oregon Department of State Lands director Mary Abrams said her agency weighed numerous factors before making the decision, including public comments, economic and social impacts of the project, and whether the project meets state requirements for protecting water resources, navigation, fishing and public recreation.

In a news release Monday, the agency announced it determined that the Morrow Pacific project “is not consistent with the protection, conservation and best use of the state’s water resources, and that the applicant did not provide sufficient analysis of alternatives that would avoid construction of a new dock and impacts on tribal fisheries.”

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Yakama Nation to Coal: And Stay Out

BlueOregon | August 18, 2014
By Michael O’Leary

“The Yakama Nation will not rest until the entire regional threat posed by the coal industry to our ancestral lands and waters is eradicated.” ~Yakama Nation Chairman JoDe Goudy.

Governor Kitzhaber’s Department of State Lands has issued a landmark denial of Oregon’s only proposed coal export terminal, keeping millions of tons of coal right where it belongs – buried in the ground.

Back in May the Yakama Nation protested that the coal terminal proposed for their traditional treaty recognized fishing grounds up on the Columbia River, near modern day Boardman, was an attack on the water, the salmon, their way of life, and a contradiction to the idea of living in balance with our surroundings.

The Australian coal mining company in question, Ambre Energy, denied the tribal claims in comments to the media and in filings to state regulators.

Evidently the claims by the coal company about where tribal fishing rights do or don’t apply were not persuasive.

In their findings released on August 18th the Department of State Lands had the final word on the matter:

“The agency record demonstrates that the project would unreasonably interfere with a small but important and and long-standing fishery in the State’s waters at the project site.”

In response to this news Yakama Chairman JoDe Goudy made the following statement:

“This is only the beginning of what I expect will be a long fight. Yakama Nation will not rest until the entire regional threat posed by the coal industry to our ancestral lands and waters is eradicated. We will continue to speak out and fight on behalf of our people, and for those things, which cannot speak for themselves, that have been entrusted to us for cultivation and preservation since time immemorial. Today, however, we thank and stand in solidarity with the State of Oregon, and celebrate its decision to protect the Columbia River from further damage and degradation.”

So what’s next?

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Oregon Rejects Key Permit for Coal Export Terminal

EcoWatch | August 18, 2014
By Brett VandenHeuvel, Columbia Riverkeeper

The state of Oregon stood up to dirty coal exports today by denying a key dock-building permit. This denial is a major victory for residents and climate activists who have waged a huge, high-profile campaign against coal exports. Oregon’s decision today shows that our state leadership values clean air, our climate and healthy salmon runs.

Hundreds of Oregonians gather at a youth-led rally against coal export in March. Kids ages three and up spoke out against coal exports and demanded that Governor Kitzhaber protect their future from dirty coal.

Hundreds of Oregonians gather at a youth-led rally against coal export in March. Kids ages three and up spoke out against coal exports and demanded that Governor Kitzhaber protect their future from dirty coal.

Coal export proponent, Ambre Energy asked the Oregon’s Department of State Lands for permission to build a new loading dock to ship Powder River Basin coal down the Columbia River to ocean-going ships bound for Asia. Oregon said no, saying the coal export project “would unreasonably interfere with the paramount policy of this state to preserve the use of its waters for navigation, fishing and public recreation.”

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Federal judge orders Army Corps to release Ambre Energy coal terminal documents

OregonLive.com | August 14, 2014
By Rob Davis

A federal judge order the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to turn over documents about a proposed Boardman coal terminal that would unload coal trains to export to Asian markets. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

A federal judge order the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to turn over documents about a proposed Boardman coal terminal that would unload coal trains to export to Asian markets. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

It will have taken nearly two years, but an environmental group will finally get the documents it wanted about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers review of a proposed Oregon coal export terminal.

A federal judge on Thursday ordered the agency to produce more than 300 pages of documents sought by Columbia Riverkeeper about Ambre Energy’s planned terminal to send 8.8 million tons of coal annually to Asia.

The environmental group requested information from the Army Corps under the federal Freedom of Information Act in November 2012. The group’s attorneys wanted to know why the agency settled on a less stringent environmental review for the proposed coal terminal in Boardman than for two in Washington state.

The Army Corps withheld some or all of 341 documents. Riverkeeper sued to get them in August.

Federal magistrate judge Paul Papak ordered their release Thursday, saying the agency had failed to back up claims that the documents should be exempt from disclosure.

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Oregon coal, oil train expansion subsidies draw elected leaders’ opposition

OregonLive.com | August 7, 2014
By Rob Davis

A group of local and state leaders is urging Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and the state’s top transportation officials not to award $6.9 million in subsidies to projects that would aid the expansion of oil and coal train traffic.

The officials, including Multnomah County Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury and the mayors of The Dalles, Albany, Eugene, Milwaukie, Beaverton and Hood River, say the state should do more to prepare for oil train accidents before spending money to expand traffic.

State subsidies shouldn’t be awarded without understanding the impact on Oregonians’ health and safety, the elected officials say. The projects hold “the potential for grave risk to people, property and the environment,” Kafoury and Multnomah County Commissioner Jules Bailey said in a letter.

The state’s transportation commission will decide later this month whether to spend $2.9 million on a rail line improvement project in Rainier, a Columbia River town where oil train traffic bisects the main street. The project would install curbs, reconfigure parking and add designated pedestrian and vehicle crossings on A Street, allowing trains to speed up from 10 mph to 25 mph and blow their horns fewer times.

The Rainier project would allow the number of mile-long oil trains passing through the town to increase from 24 monthly to 38, helping expansion plans and profits for an oil shipping terminal operated near Clatskanie by Massachusetts-based Global Partners.

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Dirty Coal Exports Are a ‘Global Shell Game’

Common Dreams, July 28, 2014
By Deirdre Fulton

Federal coal leases are essentially a major fossil fuel subsidy, Greenpeace says.

Black Thunder Coal Mine North, in Wyoming's Powder River Basin. (Photo: Doc Searls)

Black Thunder Coal Mine North, in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. (Photo: Doc Searls)

U.S. coal exports and the federal coal leasing program threaten to undermine federal, state, and international efforts to reduce carbon pollution, according to reports issued Monday.

An Associated Press analysis of U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data shows that while the U.S. has cut its own coal consumption by 195 million tons over the last six years, about 20 percent of that coal was shipped abroad, much of it to European countries.

Even as the U.S. promotes energy efficiency and cracks down on dirty power plants within its own borders, thereby reducing U.S. carbon pollution, it has increased its coal-export capacity — with coal producers and companies that sell coal seeking to expand that infrastructure even further.

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With 18 oil trains weekly, Columbia River Gorge is the key route for Pacific Northwest’s crude-by-rail

The Oregonian, June 24, 2014
By Rob Davis

An oil train parked in Vancouver, Wash., in early April. BNSF moves 18 oil trains weekly through the Columbia River Gorge to Clark County. (Rob Davis/The Oregonian)

An oil train parked in Vancouver, Wash., in early April. BNSF moves 18 oil trains weekly through the Columbia River Gorge to Clark County. (Rob Davis/The Oregonian)

Eighteen oil trains a week move along the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, newly released data shows, a figure that could more than double if a proposed Vancouver, Wash., oil train terminal opens.

BNSF Railway Co. notified Washington authorities that it hauled 19 oil trains through Klickitat County in one week between May 29 and June 4, the state’s most heavily traveled route. All but one continued on through the gorge to Clark County, en route to Seattle and Portland.

At that pace, nearly 1,000 oil trains would move through the Columbia Gorge annually. That could grow to almost 2,500 trains a year – carrying between 70,000 and 90,000 barrels of oil apiece — if a major Vancouver oil train terminal proposed by Tesoro-Savage is approved. And that doesn’t include crude oil from Utah hauled by Union Pacific on the Oregon side of the gorge.

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