Coal Export Action Roadshow

Published on May 11, 2012 by in Events

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Thanks to all who attended our Coal Export Action Roadshow last night! The event was sponsored by the UO Climate Justice League and the Survival Center, and was facilitated by our friend and CEA organizer, Lobo.

Lobo began by telling his personal story of getting attacked and arrested by Portland police on Mayday, then shared photos of Chinese workers at Foxconn (a sweatshop for Apple products), as well as indigenous people in India who were killed for trying to defend their land from being mined for resources. He asked how violence related to coal exports, Foxconn and resource mining – and why people in the US weren’t outraged about all of these things happening.

Various responses included that because we’re so privileged in the US, we don’t have to deal with the same life-threatening decisions as others around the world; our media keeps us insulated and unaware of these issues; most of us have never known anything else besides our industrialized, capitalist culture; and in general, people in the US are quite apathetic to these issues, thinking we’ll never be able to solve them on our own. In ways, our lifestyle protects the evils that perpetrate these systems of violence, injustice and oppression. Some of us don’t know what to do or whom to blame; we may not know what action(s) to take because we’re afraid to fail or have no model of success to follow.

After watching videos of Monday’s anti-coal rally in Portland, as well as one on current coal exports in Montana, the group concluded the event by realizing that while there isn’t just one solution, tackling the root of the problem (for coal exports, this would be coal mining in Montana and Wyoming) seems like the most effective way to start.

Coal Export Action takes place August 10-20 in Helena, MT – we hope you will join us for this massive act of non-violent civil disobedience to stop coal pollution at the source!

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Letter in today’s RG

Published on May 9, 2012 by in Local thoughts

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Check out this letter from No Coal Eugene member Jere Rosemeyer in today’s Register Guard – thanks, Jere!

Kitzhaber backs coal export review

I urge all those concerned about rapid climate change to read the full text of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s request for a comprehensive environmental impact statement regarding the coal train juggernaut facing Oregon.

It addresses in detail the harmful effects of transporting 157 million tons of coal through Oregon and Washington every year (two- to three-mile-long trains passing through Eugene daily).

Kitzhaber’s letter addresses the harmful effects to Oregon of Asian coal combustion. It mentions not only elevated mercury levels but also spells out all the deleterious effects of climate change. It questions the very concept of coal exports and asks how they can be consistent with “the larger strategy of moving to a low-carbon future.”

Oregon is on the front lines of the worldwide effort to prevent a runaway greenhouse catastrophe. What we decide will play a major role in determining the options available to future generations.

Those who want to curb global warming should contact NoCoalEugene to find out more about stopping the coal trains from passing through Oregon.

Jere C. Rosemeyer, Eugene

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Sunday morning media round-up

Published on April 22, 2012 by in News

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I’ve been doing some research on the Port of Coos Bay and coal exports in Oregon, and recently found these interesting articles that I thought I’d pass on to you all. Here are some nuggets of information for your Sunday morning reading:

  • Although Big Coal has had some setbacks this year, the Pacific Northwest should expect a long, hard fight to keep the dirty industry out of the region. “[E]ach terminal will create scores of jobs, not hundreds, and many of them will be temporary construction jobs. But these are depressed communities, and, as we know, we’re talking here about the political third rail in this frail economy.” (Dirty Industry, Dirty Fight: Big Coal Is On The Ropes, But Not Down For The Count, ThinkProgress)
  • Oregon’s Department of State Lands must decide whether to approve a permit to expand docks in the Port of Boardman, which could potentially export coal to markets overseas  – which is why dozens rallied in protest at the DSL office in Salem last week. The DSL has fewer than 60 days to make a decision. (Oregonians Protest Coal Exports, KOHD)
  • The Oregon Sierra Club has an online petition for a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be conducted on the Port of Morrow, as well as all Pacific Northwest ports that may export coal, by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Sign the petition here.
  • The Port of Coos Bay and its partners will spend the next six months – and $300,000 – to continue studying “the feasibility of exporting coal from somewhere on the North Spit of Coos Bay.” (Port: Coal needs further study, The World)
  • Coal exported from Coos Bay will not be going to China, according to the Port’s CEO David Koch. Also:

The Port has signed a confidentiality agreement and isn’t naming the companies involved. However, EarthFix has learned the Japanese conglomerate Mitsui and California-based Metro Ports are two of the key players in a bid to develop a coal export terminal with the Port of Coos Bay. (EarthFix)

  • Asian demand for low-sulfur Powder River Basin coal is driving the export terminal pursuits in the Pacific Northwest. Export terminals in British Columbia are shipping coal to Asian markets but have been unable to keep up with the growing demand across the Pacific.” (International investors want in on Oregon coast coal terminal, EarthFix)

Today is Earth Day, an appropriate day for No Coal Eugene to get together to plan our campaign to keep coal trains out of our city and state. A few teams will be meeting today and tomorrow – if you’re interested in joining us, check out how to get involved!

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DeFazio’s letter on coal trains

Published on April 20, 2012 by in Uncategorized

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In our last post we shared the Sustainability Commission‘s recently-approved letter to City Council opposing coal trains; in this post we’ll be talking about a letter from Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) regarding coal export in Coos Bay. The letter was originally dated January 24, 2012 but it was discussed at the Commission’s April 4 meeting. Read the entire letter here.

In summary, DeFazio’s letter is a polite request to the International Port of Coos Bay to be mindful of fugitive coal dust; to “ask [prospective rail carriers] to consider using enclosed rail cars to minimize public health impacts from coal dust;” and to enforce “stringent containment prevention methods” should the port become an export terminal.

DeFazio’s stance is commendable in his promptness to address Project Mainstay, but his letter lacks a concern for long-term economic and environmental effects on the region due to coal exports, as well as a sense of urgency in taking action on the matter. As a champion of the people, DeFazio should know that Big Coal’s corporate interests have no place in our state.

While we applaud DeFazio’s prompt acknowledgement of the issue, we hope our representative steps up his environmental advocacy in the coming months – we’ll need his support when we step up to the plate with Big Coal!

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We’ve had a busy last few weeks here at No Coal Eugene: our various committees have been planning actions, talking to the media and drafting a city ordinance. But we wanted to share a small victory from a few weeks ago, when the Eugene Sustainability Commission approved a letter opposing coal trains to send to City Council. The full letter can be viewed here.

“Allowing coal trains to pass through our City is not compatible with state and regional efforts to close coal plants, nor with local goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, enhance public health and promote local food production,” the statement reads. “Furthermore, coal mining, export and combustion … undermine Eugene’s efforts to reduce emissions that cause climate change and develop clean energy jobs.”

In the letter the Commission recommends the following actions be taken by the City:

  • Direct the City Manager and appropriate staff to identify all possible actions the City can take to prevent the transport of coal through Eugene;
  • Pass a resolution or ordinance to oppose coal export from Coos Bay and transport through Eugene;
  • Inform Governor Kitzhaber, Port of Coos Bay officials and coal companies involved in proposals to transport coal through Eugene, that the City will enforce all applicable local, state and federal laws protecting public health, safety and air and water quality to prevent the transport of coal through the City; and
  • Join other cities in Oregon to lobby the Governor and legislature to oppose coal export terminals in the State of Oregon.

Some interesting figures were thrown into the letter, including the number of local jobs that may be created through coal exports in Coos Bay (30 to 45); the amount of coal dust that escapes from each train car (3% of a “typically” 100-ton load); and the amount of mercury deposited in the Northwest via coal burning in China each year (1,400 tons).

The Sustainability Commission also addressed letters regarding coal exports from Rep. Peter Defazio and the Port of Coos Bay International – more on those letters soon!

 

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Yesterday members of No Coal Eugene traveled up to Salem to participate in a rally at the Dept. of State Lands to tell Governor Kitzhaber to oppose coal exports in Oregon. The event was primarily organized by the Portland Sierra Club chapter, but people of other organizations and from all parts of the state came out to the rally. Here’s an excerpt from KEZI’s coverage of the rally:

“Oregon really has led the way in the nation towards building a clean energy economy and promoting clean air and clean water in healthy communities, and this is a major step in the wrong direction,” said Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign Organizer Laura Stevens.

“What we burn in Asia will come back to haunt us, and it will destroy this planet,” said Virginia Nugent.

“Organic farming is gone for several miles on either side of coal trains,” said Carol Ross.

Health experts say the black coal dust and particles emitted from coal trains will harm not only the environment, but residents as well.

“It causes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It’s harmful for people that are prone to asthma. It also causes heart disease,” said physician Dr. Andy Harris.

The group says another issue is the nearly mile-long trains blocking traffic.

“If there’s any emergency vehicles that have to get across town, that isn’t going to happen,” Dr. Harris said.

After the rally, citizens went inside the Dept. of State Lands to attend a board meeting at which Gov. Kitzhaber was present. Though coal exports weren’t on the agenda, the group sent a strong message to the governor about how Oregonians feel about our state being used as a conduit for dirty energy. Here is a statement from Kitzhaber’s communications director, as featured in the Statesman Journal:

“Gov. Kitzhaber is concerned about a range of unanswered questions about the impact of coal exports on consumers, infrastructure and the environment that should be addressed in a comprehensive way by the federal government before proceeding,” said Kitzhaber’s communications director Tim Raphael in am email. “The governor is exploring his options to engage and will ensure that any project obeys all state and federal laws to protect public health and the environment.”

Let’s keep up the movement to keep coal out of Oregon!

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A word from a Whiteaker resident

Published on April 6, 2012 by in Local thoughts

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Stephen, a Eugene resident, had this to say about coal trains in our community:

I live in the Whiteaker only one block from the tracks. The train is a constant nuisance. Polluting the air, blaring its horn, spraying herbicide, and doing very little to control litter and public nuisance.

The addition of coal carrying train cars will make a bad situation worse.

Eugene residents suffer tremendously from air quality issues stemming from grass farming to the north. Adding coal dust to our already polluted air will case many (including myself) increased bronchial and asthma related complications.

I love Eugene. I want to live here form many years to come. I am an environmentally conscious individual who embraces the wonderful outdoors. I fear a further deterioration in air quality and livability will drive me to relocate. Please Eugene, support your citizens, the environment, and our global village by stopping coal trains in Eugene.

This message was originally posted in No Coal Eugene’s Facebook group.

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KLCC Interviews NCE!

Published on April 2, 2012 by in News

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No Coal Eugene was featured bright ‘n early Monday morning on KLCC – here’s the write-up:

Groups Organize to Oppose Coal Export Terminals in Oregon
April 2, 2012
By Rachael McDonald

Opponents of a proposed coal export terminal on the South Coast are organizing. One group based at the University of Oregon is creating a community bill of rights to present to the Eugene City Council.

Zachary Stark-McMillan is a recent U of O graduate. He’s a spokesman for No Coal Eugene. He’s concerned about the health risks to Oregon residents if trains carrying tons of coal are going through the state. He says it’s also about the impact of coal on the global environment.

Stark-McMillan: “The fight against coal is a worldwide fight and a nationwide fight. And this is a way that Eugene especially, at this point, can play a role in stopping coal-burning that leads to disastrous climate change around the world.”

No Coal Eugene is hoping to file a city-wide ballot measure opposing the coal trains for the November 2012 election.

Copyright 2012 KLCC.

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NCE in the EW! – again!

Published on March 29, 2012 by in News

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Here’s a news update via Eugene Weekly about what’s happening now in No Coal Eugene:

STOPPING DIRTY COAL IN ITS TRACKS

Eugene doesn’t have to let dirty coal trains come through town wafting lung-clogging dust in their wake, according to a coalition of environmental and environmental justice groups. Beyond Toxics, No Coal Eugene and the UO’s Climate Justice League have teamed up to craft a ballot measure that would buck federal and state law to stand up against Big Coal.

The proposed November ballot measure “creates a city ordinance that empowers the local authorities to stop coal trains from coming through Eugene,” says Zach Stark-MacMillan of No Coal Eugene.

“I think of it as a citywide civil disobedience saying the state and federal government don’t have the final say over local communities. We should have the final say over what comes through our town,” Stark-MacMillan says.

A draft of the proposed ordinance calls it the “Eugene Community Bill of Rights” and cites the Declaration of Independence: “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.” It says the U.S. and the state have failed to protect the public trust so “the people of Eugene find it necessary to act on their own behalf.”

The draft ordinance calls the “transportation of coal through the municipality” a violation of the right of the residents and ecosystems of Eugene to a healthy, natural climate.

Since corporations use “corporate ‘powers’ and ‘rights’ to overturn community lawmaking focused on building sustainability,” the draft says, this ordinance removes those powers and rights from those corporations to ensure that the powers and rights of the community are superior to those of the corporations that extract, distribute and use coal.

“Open-car coal trains pose a serious threat to our community,” says Lisa Arkin of Beyond Toxics. “We don’t intend to let black coal dust pollute the air and water throughout the Willamette Valley and our coastal communities.”

Stark-MacMillan says in addition to the health concerns that “open-bed coal cars releasing literally tons of coal dust into the air around Eugene” create, the coalition is concerned with the climate-changing effects of burning coal and with the disruption that mile-long coal trains could cause local businesses as they chug through town.

Next month the Eugene Sustainability Commission plans to debate asking the City Council to oppose coal trains.

Arkin says signature gathering for the ordinance will start soon. A training on community rights ordinances will be led by Kai Huschke from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund at 7:30 pm Wednesday, April 4, at the Growers Market and 7 pm Thursday, April 5 in Lillis 112 on the UO campus. More information can be found at BeyondToxics.org and NoCoalEugene.org

Camilla Mortensen

NOTE: The time of the workshop has changed to just Thursday at 6pm in Lillis 112

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