The Planet, Sierra Club Stories from the Front Lines, July 15, 2013
By Annie Szotkowski
Six coal terminals have been proposed by coal companies in Oregon and Washington. Three have already been shelved by public outcry. On Tuesday, July 9, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) hosted twelve-hour hearings at the Portland Convention Center and in Hermiston, Oregon, on a draft air permit for the controversial and unstudied coal export terminal proposal at the Port of Morrow near Boardman, Ore.
The DEQ set stringent rules around the public testimony, restricting comments to two minutes, and heavily enforcing people to register before entering the hearing room even if they were not planning to speak. Frustrated by the DEQ’s persistence in claiming “limited authority” to study real threats posed by the coal facility, local residents took their concerns to a “people’s hearing” on Tuesday evening.
The vibrant “people’s hearing” that formed outside the convention center was a host of over 500 residents wearing red shirts who voiced concerns over detriments in the DEQ permitting of the Morrow coal export facility. If developed, the project at the Port of Morrow will have negative public health, environmental, and economic consequences, not to mention a potential sledgehammer to the natural beauty of Oregon.