Oregon's governor is calling for a federal probe into the environmental effects of controversial coal-export projects in the Northwest. Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber said Wednesday that the United States risks locking Asian countries into dependency on fossil fuels "if it expands access to vast American coal reserves."
In February, BW first told you (BW,Feature, The Dirty Dance, Feb. 1, 2012) about plans to haul coal from Montana mines across Idaho's panhandle and on to the Pacific coast before being shipped to Asia. The plan has targeted six ports in Oregon and Washington to ship the coal to power-hungry Asian markets. According the Associated Press, the projects "could mean at least 100 million additional tons of coal shipped per year to Asia."
"Coal trains bring only harm ... no benefit. Not one single job," said Crystal Garner, associate field organizer for the Sierra Club in Spokane. "Basically, we'd be another sacrifice zone for the mining companies. Why should we let Big Coal ram this down our throats and threaten our quality of life?"
The Environmental Protection Agency last week asked the U.S. Corps of Engineers to thoroughly review the potential effects of coal exports, but an environmental assessment on the scale of one like Kitzhaber requested could take years.