A second coal export project in Oregon and Washington was dropped on April 1st, marking a victory for local environmental groups, and, of course, the environment itself. This is the second of five Northwest coal export projects to fail in the past year—in 2012, Rail America halted its plans to build a coal terminal at the Port of Grays Harbor.
Metro Ports, a Californian company, had been negotiating with the Port of Coos Bay to develop a coal export terminal in Coos Bay. Metro Ports’ proposed project included plans to run coal trains measuring over a mile long through southeast Portland, Milwaukie, Salem, and Eugene. After one and a half years of negotiations, the company failed to meet its exclusive option deadline on Sunday, March 31. On Monday the Port of Coos bay announced its decision to end the agreement.
Crag Law Center has been working with a coalition of groups including Columbia River Keeper, Climate Solutions, and Sierra Club to keep coal exports out of Oregon and the Columbia Gorge. With the plans of Metro Ports and Rail America off the table, three other plans to construct export terminals in Oregon and Washington remain. Along with the coalition led by Columbia Riverkeeper, Crag remains active in the fight against two of them: Ambre, an Australian company, has desires to ship coal via the Port of Morrow and St. Helens to Asia; Kinder Morgan wants to build a coal export terminal at Port Westward in St. Helens.
On April 4th, the Oregonian Editorial Board posted an op-ed, “Oregon should stop dragging out air permit for coal facility: Agenda 2013.” You can read Crag co-director Chris Winter’s response, “Oregon is taking a fair, measured approach on coal permits,” which was published as guest opinion piece in today’s edition of the Oregonian. Check out Chris’s piece and stay tuned for the latest updates on our work to preserve the incredible natural legacy of the Columbia River Gorge.
Emma Stanford is a recent graduate of PSU, a long-time environmental activist and a volunteer at Crag Law Center.