Coal export critics ramped up pressure on Gov. John Kitzhaber today to delay any Oregon projects until a comprehensive “health impact assessment” is completed.
An assessment could take over a year, which would be a blow to Ambre Energy, the only company to date to apply for Oregon permits to export Montana and Wyoming coal to Asia.
Lining up in favor of a delay: Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Oregon’s Environmental Justice Task Force, the Yakama Nation, the Linnton neighborhood association in northwest Portland and leaders of north Portland’s 11 neighborhood associations.
Oregon PSR said 130 physicians signed a position statement that asks the governor to delay issuing permits until comprehensive health and environmental reviews are conducted, whether by state or federal agencies or an independent group.
Ophthalmologist Andy Harris, an advisory board member for Oregon PSR, said coal export out of Oregon and Washington ports poses “a significant risk to public health.”
Critics’ concerns range from diesel emissions from train and barge traffic to coal dust from trains and terminals to mercury blowing back on trade winds when coal is burned in Asia.
“Why in the world would we want to step back into the 19th century and further the use of coal, which is the most toxic of all fossil fuels?” Harris said at a Portland press conference today.