Keep Up the Fight to Stop Coal Exports in Oregon

from Wildlife Promise

Good news came last week in the battle to protect Oregon’s fish and wildlife from toxic coal pollution. Thanks to support from wildlife advocates like you, multi-billion dollar coal giant Ambre Energy experienced a major setback in its plans to ship coal out of the Port of Morrow in Oregon.

The decision came after Ambre Energy initially refused to provide key information requested by Oregon’s Department of State Lands (DSL), including the project’s impacts to fish and wildlife. Knowing that DSL would likely deny the permit without this information, Ambre was forced to ask for an extension—pushing back the final decision on the permit by five months.

Dangers to Local Fish and Wildlife

Orcas like this one are at risk from toxic coal pollution. Source: Minette Layne/WikiMedia Commons

Ambre Energy’s Morrow Pacific project would involve shipping 8.8 million tons of coal per year on mile-long trains from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming—spewing coal dust and diesel emissions along the way. From the port terminal, the coal would be barged down the river through sensitive habitat along the Columbia River gorge and transferred to giant ships to be exported overseas.

In addition to the impacts from toxic pollution to endangered orcas and other imperiled Northwest species, once the coal is exported overseas and burned, it would drive climate change, ocean acidification, mercury deposition, and other crises that affect species like salmon and steelhead, upon which orcas depend.

If approved, the Morrow Pacific project would be the first of five proposed coal export facilities in Oregon and Washington to get a green light. If all of them are built, over 150 million tons or more of coal would be moved by rail, barge, and tanker every year through those states—making it one of the world’s largest coal export regions.

Coal Exports Meet Rising Opposition

Public Opposition to Coal Exports, Seattle, WA - December, 2012

Public Opposition to Coal Exports, Seattle. NWF Photo by Michael O’Leary.

With coal on the decline in the U.S., the coal industry has their sights set on fast-growing China and India to turn the tide.  They are spending millions of dollars in a desperate effort to rush these projects through and hide the true costs of their coal export plans. But a groundswell of public opposition to coal exports across the Northwest has played a critical role in slowing down the projects.

Tens of thousands of public comments, packed public hearings, and letters to the editor in local newspapers have turned up the pressure on decision makers by exposing the dangers of coal to the environment and communities. The Morrow Pacific delay is the second since the permit was filed just over a year ago, and just last week, two of the three investors of another proposed coal export terminal at Coos Bay, Oregon announced they are backing out.

Take Action for Northwest Wildlife!

Governor Kitzhaber and his Department of State Lands now have until September 1st to approve or deny the Morrow Pacific permit. While the governor has recently called on federal officials to do a sweeping review of proposed ports, he’s also coming under heavy pressure from the coal industry. Before a final decision is made, it’s critical that Governor Kitzhaber knows his constituents support him in standing strong against coal export from Oregon’s shores.

There are countless reasons why we must stop coal exports: to sustain the diverse habitats and wildlife of our region, to keep our waters and air clean, to fight climate change—just to name a few.

TAKE ACTION! In the comment box below, tell us why stopping Northwest coal export projects matters to YOU, and we’ll share your messages with the Governor!