Gov. John Kitzhaber shared his “grave concerns” about coal export projects on the West Coast at the Future Energy Conference in Portland Wednesday. And he asked the federal government to conduct a full environmental impact study of the coal mined on public land in the Powder River Basin – including the impacts of exporting it to Asia – before any more coal leases are granted.
There are six coal export terminals proposed in the Northwest, at Oregon ports in Coos Bay, Boardman and St. Helens and at Washington ports in Bellingham, Longview, and Grays Harbor. Many of the projects would involve taking coal from the Powder River Basin and shipping by rail to ports for exports to Asia.
Kitzhaber said there are “many unanswered questions” about coal exports on the West Coast, and that he’s concerned about the environmental, economic and health impacts of shipping coal along rail lines and waterways in Oregon and Washington.
Kitzhaber said the federal government has assessed some of the environmental impacts of mining coal on public lands in Wyoming and Montana. But the existing Environmental Impact Statement for coal leases on Bureau of Land Management sites in the Powder River Basin only assesses shipping coal to the Midwest and Eastern states for power production in the U.S.
The BLM has not analyzed the impacts of shipping that coal to Asia through terminals on the West Coast.
(Go to Cassandra Profita’s Ecotrope on OPB to read Kitzhaber’s full comments.)
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