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!
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!
http://kezi.com/news/local/244341 – Click here for video!
Taken from KEZI.com:
EUGENE, Ore. — A coal train chugged its way through the University of Oregon campus Monday afternoon.
It was meant to bring attention to the coal trains that could soon head through Eugene and other parts of Western Oregon.
It was quite the spectacle if you happened to be studying or eating lunch near the Erb Memorial Union around noon. Members of No Coal Eugene hopped on their no coal train, leaving a thick cloud of activism behind them. Equipped with a conductor and cabooses, members shouted phrases like ‘Coal Train Comin’ Through!’ while hacking.
They ended their route in the middle of the amphitheater by dramatically faking their deaths.
Members say they want people to be aware of the dangers uncovered coal would present if it came through the city.”A lot of people in Eugene don’t know that we’re gonna be having coal trains coming through and they’re not given any say on whether or not they are gonna come through because we’re valuing the rights of this coal company over the rights of the people here,” said Grace Warner from No Coal Eugene.
The Port of Coos Bay signed a contract with an unknown company in October. They’re still in talks about shipping coal out of the harbor, but estimates show 15,000 tons could pass through Eugene each day. “No Coal” says during this shipment process, large amounts of coal can fall out and Eugenians would inhale an unsafe amount of the dust. No Coal Eugene plans to make its voice loud and clear with more action like this in the future.
EUGENE, APRIL 16TH – Today at approximately 11:50AM, members of No Coal Eugene drove a massive, handcrafted “coal train” through the University of Oregon campus. The train stopped foot traffic and released “coal dust”, representing how a real coal train will interfere with people’s mobility and harm their health. This street theater was done in honor of Earth Week and to call attention to the coal trains that will be coming through Eugene.
Demonstrators included concerned students, Eugene residents and members of many different community groups. Some activists dressed as train conductors as they handed out literature about coal exports and announced “Coal Train coming though! Got a schedule to keep to. Need to keep delivering these coal related illness to your doorstep!”. Other participants held signs of coal related illnesses, such as lung cancer and emphysema, and staged a die-in.
In early December, 2011, the Port of Coos Bay announced “Project Mainstay,” a collaboration between Coos Bay and an anonymous company, to ship coal out of the harbor. Coal will be coming from the Powder River Basin in Montana through several cities, including Eugene, to be exported out of Coos Bay to Asian markets. An estimated 15,000 tons of uncovered coal will be on every train. The Sightline Institute estimates that 500 lbs to a ton of coal can escape from a single loaded car.
Other communities, like Bellingham, that are facing coal export have organized to fight “Project Mainstay” from polluting their cities. City residents in Eugene have been working together as well, “All Eugenians will be directly affected by these uncovered coal trains and it is all of our responsibility to permanently take action against these filthy industries that continue to make their profit by exploiting our resources and jeopardizing our health.”, comments Giffin Gates, co-director of the Survival Center at the UO, “Parents, activists, medical professionals, school teachers, government bodies, and all residents need to join in on the fight against all environmental injustices, especially these coal trains and the dirty industries that continue to pollute West Eugene.” Coal export is facing tremendous backlash and resistance from citizens in the Northwest.
No Coal Eugene is opposed to coal trains coming through Eugene and the use and extraction of any nonrenewable energy sources, including all fossil fuels. The group is committed to keeping the coal trains from polluting Eugene’s air, water and land. Dirty industries are not welcome in Eugene’s backyard or anyone else’s backyard.
Everyone is invited to attend the first biweekly community potluck this Thursday (4/19) at the upstairs of Grower’s Market, 454 Willamette St., from 7PM to 9PM. Learn more about the threat of coal exports, make new friends, eat tasty food and find out how we can stop the coal trains!
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!
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.
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
Today at approximately 1:30 PM, members of No Coal Eugene dropped a banner reading “STOP THE COAL TRAIN” from the parking garage on 10th and Oak in Eugene, Oregon. This action was done in solidarity with Rocky Mountain Powershift and to bring attention to the coal trains proposed to run through Eugene.
In October 2011, the Port of Coos Bay signed a contract with an anonymous company to ship coal out of the harbor. Coal will be coming from the Powder River Basin in Montana through several cities, including Eugene, to be exported out of Coos Bay to Asian markets. An estimated 15,000 tons of uncovered coal will be on every train. The Sightline Institute estimates that 500 lbs to a ton of coal can escape from a single loaded car. With one or two trains coming through Eugene everyday, Eugenians will be inhaling an unsafe amount of coal dust.
No Coal Eugene is in opposition to the coal trains for three reasons: We support the community of Coos Bay which is already impacted by environmentally destructive industries – including strip mining, deforestation, dredging and pollution. We are opposed to the use of fossil fuels as a non-renewable energy source because of its effect on the global climate and global health. We are also opposed to large coal companies using public money for their own profits.