Facing several hundred coal export opponents, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden stopped short today of calling for a comprehensive environmental review of proposals to ship coal to Asia through Northwest ports, as U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley and Gov. John Kitzhaber have done.
But the Oregon Democrat said at his Portland forum on trade and energy that he supports Kitzhaber and Merkley’s request and still wants full disclosure of the potential costs to Oregon communities.
“My bottom line is Oregonians have an absolute right to know the environmental impacts of these projects, and I don’t believe it ought to take 3 to 5 years to tell them,” he said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering whether to do an “area wide” environmental impact statement that would consider the cumulative effects of the Northwest’s coal export projects, instead of just looking at projects one at a time. The Corps is expected to make a decision by the end of summer.
Wyden said his staff believes a highly technical response letter from the Corps to Kitzhaber earlier this year indicates the Corps doesn’t think it has the legal authority to do a cumulative review of coal exports, making a request from him a moot point. He said he wants to focus on next steps.