No Coos Bay Coal Terminal

Mar28

Blog: Jordan Cove LNG knocked to its knees

by Francis Eatherington, Cascadia Wildlands Umpqua Regional Advisor
 
Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied the Jordan Cove Project. We were shocked as FERC is known as the rubber-stamping government agency that approves fossil fuel projects at any cost. Even the promoter of Jordan Cove, Canadian-based Veresen Inc., said it was “shocked and disappointed” with the decision. The energy scheme would have resulted in the construction of the 232-mile Pacific Connector Pipeline through southwest Oregon, which would have brought fracked gas from Canada and the Rockies to Coos Bay where it would be super cooled and exported to markets in Asia — a real loser for clean water, wildlands, climate stability and families in the path of the pipeline.
 
LNGrally_farmSignFERC had already missed its decision deadline scheduled for December 29, so by March 2016 we were wondering, “Were they late because a group of the landowners under threat of eminent domain recently wrote to FERC?” On lawyer letterhead, they reminded FERC that if there were no buyers for the gas Veresen wanted to export, there was no “public need” required for eminent domain to take their farm and forestlands.
 
Veresen had recently admitted to FERC it had no buyers for the gas, and only 3% of the impacted landowners had agreed to host its pipeline. FERC could not give Veresen permission to forcibly condemn 97% of the private property needed for the pipeline if no one wanted the gas. (That is actually FERC’s definition of public need… that there is a buyer for the product. The landowners also objected to a foreign-owned corporation taking their land only for corporate profit).
 
When FERC denied the Jordan Cove permit on March 11, they cited “significant landowner opposition” and that “Pacific Connector has presented little or no evidence of need for the Pacific Connector Pipeline” because Pacific Connector has not “entered into any precedent agreements for its project.” FERC concludes “issuance of a certificate would allow Pacific Connector to proceed with eminent domain proceedings in what we find to be the absence of a demonstrated need for the pipeline.”
 
The cheers of victory reverberated around the 650 impacted landowners and dozens of organizations who have fought this terrible project for over 10 years. The day was spent on the phone, email, and social media in tears of joy.
 
This gas export scheme would have been Oregon’s largest source of greenhouse gas pollution, with an infrastructure tying us to fossil fuels for decades, and it would have impacted 33 rare fish and wildlife species protected under the Endangered Species Act. Moreover, the liquefied natural gas terminal would have been built in a tsunami evacuation zone where the big one is expected at any time.
 
Let’s all rejoice in FERCs decision to deny it, even if the decision was not for any of the reasons mentioned above. While we should celebrate this victory, our work is still not done. We need to convince Oregon Governor Kate Brown that if FERC found no need for this project, the state should also stop work on the many permits required for the Jordan Cove export terminal.
 
A word of caution: FERC’s decision stated that if Veresen finds any buyers, FERC could reconsider their decision. And sure enough, on March 22, Veresen announced, with great fanfare, that it may have found a buyer and is in “preliminary discussions” for 20% of the production capacity at Jordan Cove. Its press release included small print saying “no assurances can be given as to future results… undue reliance should not be placed.” We hope FERC pays attention to the small print, as we can imagine its rubber stamp quivering in the air.
 
(2015 anti-LNG rally at the state capitol. Photo by Francis Eatherington.)
 
Mar11

FERC Denies Jordan Cove LNG Permit! Major Victory for Oregon

Friday, March 11, 2016: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) laid out a major victory today for Oregon communities, wildlife, waterways, and wildlands, when they DENIED the plans to construct a Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) Pipeline through the state of Oregon, and also denied the plans for its associated Jordan Cove export terminal out of Coos Bay, OR.

Cascadia Wildlands, coalition members, volunteers, and countless climate activists celebrate this outstanding step in the right direction.

 

For years, Cascadia Wildlands and allies have been closely monitoring the Jordan Cove LNG project, which was proposed by a Canadian company, Veresen, who wanted to export Canadian gas[1] to Asia by building a 232-mile long pipeline from Klamath Falls to Coos Bay.

The proposed Pacific Connector Pipeline and Jordan Cove liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminal  would have required building the 232-mile long pipeline through sensitive forestland and waters in southwest Oregon in order to move fracked gas to the coast, to be supercooled, and then shipped to Asia. To do this, Veresen needed to convince our government that the scheme is in the "public interest" so they could get the right to condemn property owned by Oregon families through eminent domain.

Opposition was strong from the public, and FERC heard our movement's cries! It was declared that the pipeline was NOT in the best interest of the public, and the potential positives DO NOT outweigh the negative consequences of such a project.

Let's keep this momentum going!

You can donate to Cascadia Wildlands today to help continue our conservation and climate work.

For more information on the overall project, click here.

For more information specifically on:

The Pipeline
The Terminal
Global Warming Issues
Environmental Issues
Economic Issues


[1] Jordan Cove Resource Report 1, March 2012. Appendix B.1 Navigant Study page 3. “Jordan Cove is supplied 70 percent by Canadian gas”…

Feb26

Kate Brown and Green Agendas

Eugene Weekly by Camilla Mortensen
 
While her previous position as Oregon’s secretary of state typically did not put her in the environmental spotlight, Oregon’s new Governor Kate Brown is no stranger to green agendas or protests. In summer of 2012, members of Cascadia Earth First! and Eugene’s own Cascadia Forest Defenders locked themselves together at Brown’s office at the state Capitol to call attention to logging in the Elliott State Forest.
 
As secretary of state, Brown was a member of the State Land Board, which governs the Elliott, and she will continue on the SLB as governor. Logging on state and federal lands is among the many green issues that Brown will be asked to take a position on in the coming months.
 
In addition to a law degree from Lewis and Clark, Brown has a BA in environmental conservation from the University of Colorado at Boulder.Elliott rainforest (photo by Cascadia Wildlands)
 
The media and GOP lawmakers have linked former governor John Kitzhaber’s downfall to his fiancée Cylvia Hayes’ clean energy work, and some predicted this would slow down climate bills in the Legislature, but so far that has not borne out. The clean fuels bill, a Kitzhaber priority that extends Oregon’s low-carbon fuel standard, has passed in the Oregon Senate.
 
“There might have been a scandal, but that doesn’t follow to Kate Brown,” says Doug Moore of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV).
 
“I think we just have to be a little patient right now because folks in the Legislature are hurting; it’s a weird position for them to be regardless of party,” he says, adding that OLCV wants to give her “time to develop her own environmental agenda” and “do what she does best, which is think things through.”
 
Moore points to Brown’s legislative voting record, tracked by OLCV: In the 2007 session as a state senator she scored an 89 percent, and in 2005 and 2003 she scored a 67 percent. Before that, in 2001, she scored a 92, in 1999 a 93 percent and, in 1997, she scored 100 percent.
 
Moore says the fact that her “lifetime” average green voting scores were in the 80s is even more impressive, given that she was in the minority with the Republicans in power during much of her tenure.
 
Once Brown develops her agenda, Moore says OLCV hopes that “the number one issue is climate; it’s the environmental issue of our time.” He continues, “The victories we have had can all be undone if we don’t take action on climate.”
 
According to Moore, “Without states like Oregon to lead on climate, we won’t see action, and that’s not acceptable.”
 
And Oregon has a lot of areas where it can step up its efforts to slow human-caused global warming. Conservationists are fighting fossil fuel projects including coal export terminals, oil trains — such as the one that exploded in West Virginia last week — and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and their associated pipelines.
 
“Oregon’s billion-dollar sportfishing economy depends on clean water,” says Michael O’Leary, deputy director of the Northwest Steelheaders Association. “But we’re frighteningly unprepared to face the exponentially increasing risks of an oil train disaster along our waterways.”
 
O’Leary says, “We desperately need Gov. Brown to give the DEQ [Department of Environmental Quality] and ODOT [Oregon Department of Transportation] the tools they need to respond to — and to better prevent —  -these increasingly likely catastrophes.”
 
Josh Laughlin of Eugene-based Cascadia Wildlands, which has been fighting a natural gas pipeline and an LNG terminal in Coos Bay, says of Brown: “We definitely have high expectations in terms of her ability to be an environmental champion.” He calls LNG one of a “myriad of conservation issues squarely in her court.”
 
“Will she pull the plug on the reckless scheme to build a 230-mile natural gas pipeline?” he asks.
 
“The stakes are incredibly high on this one,” Laughlin says, “for wild salmon, clean water, climate stability and rural communities in southwest Oregon, which are being steamrolled by the fossil fuel industry and government regulators in terms of eminent domain and other scare tactics.”
 
Laughlin says Kitzhaber was “a mixed bag for us on our issues.” He says, “Some things he stepped up on, and on some things he was a real disappointment,” such as advocating for “ramping up the cut” on federal forestlands. On the other hand, he says, the former governor “helped broker a settlement setting up a plan for wolf recovery.”
 
He says Brown will have an opportunity to stand up for wolves, as Cascadia Wildlands expects “to see bills stripping protections for wolves and trying to kill wolves, as we do every session.”
 
Cascadia Wildlands is also keeping an eye on where Brown will go in her continued position as a member of the SLB and its governance over state lands. “On the Elliot she’s expressed a real interest in finding a conservation solution,” Laughlin says. “But the jury is still out in terms of what that means and what a solution looks like.”
 
He says, “The solution to us is very clear, and it’s beginning to gain more and more traction in Salem.” That solution, he says, is to “decouple the Elliott from the Common School Fund” so that the old growth in the coastal rain forest is no longer earmarked as a revenue for schools. “It makes no sense in this day and age to tie old-growth clearcutting to school funding,” he says.
 
Laughlin says Cascadia Wildlands would like to see Brown take a leadership role in terms of finding a solution. He asks, “Will she step up in finding a conservation solution Oregonians will be proud of?”
 
Lisa Arkin of Beyond Toxics, which is working to limit aerial sprays of pesticides on forestlands in Oregon, also has hope for Brown’s green credentials, pointing to her work on Oregon’s Sustainability Board and calling her “gung-ho” on seeking solutions.
 
During Kitzhaber’s three terms as governor, conservationists did not see improvements in Oregon’s weak Forest Practices Act, which governs logging and the use of pesticide sprays on private lands. Laughlin and Arkin hope Brown will change that and strengthen Oregon’s laws.
 
We have “high hopes in terms of her ability to be an environmental champion,” Laughlin says, “and hope she recognizes these issues we are working on are in the best interests of the Oregonians she represents.”
 
(photo of the Elliott State Forest by Cascadia Wildlands)
 
 
Feb12

Living in the Age of Returns and Firsts

 

By Maya Rommwatt, Communications and Development Intern

On February 13th, comments are due to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on the Jordan Cove LNG project.  The potentially catastrophic project includes both a pipeline and a terminal for the purpose of transporting fracked natural gas and liquefying it for export to Asia.  Similar to other proposals to transport gas and coal for the purposes of export, this project refuses to consider the impacts it will have on climate change, which now stands between us, and a livable future.

We’re living in an age of returns and firsts.  Just recently, photos confirmed the presence of an extremely rare Sierra Nevada red fox in Yosemite National Park.  There have been no sightings of the elusive creature there for ninety-nine years.  And closer to home, we learned of activity of what appears to be another one or two wolves near Crater Lake, in addition to the burgeoning Rogue Pack. I never thought I would be able to speak of Western Oregon wolves, and yet here they are, pups and all. 

But as this encouraging story unfolds, we make plans for pipelines and exports that will guarantee a future governed by catastrophic climate change.  That future has no room for recovering species.  This, as the EPA announces Canadian tar sands will only be developed if the Keystone pipeline is built, now that oil prices have dropped.  While the Keystone pipeline may soon be a receding threat, the more local Jordan Cove project is a wholly different beast.  The project would assure the export of inefficient fracked natural gas for decades to come, and once the Boardman coal plant shuts down, it will be Oregon’s biggest polluter.  This doesn’t even factor in the emissions associated with obtaining the natural gas, nor does it consider the burning of the gas by its consumers in Asia.  And yet, Oregon moves closer and closer to the LNG terminal.  We have not even begun to ask what a future with the project might look like.  If an accident were to happen with this project, say a spill, we taxpayers would likely be forced to help foot the cleanup bill, as the history of corporate settlements shows (corporations forced to pay punitive damages often deduct their settlement costs from their taxes).Two pups from the Rogue Pack, June 2014

The Jordon Cove LNG project is a disaster we can’t afford on a number of levels.  It’s foolish to think we can both recover species and build the natural gas pipeline.  Will we choose the path to recovery and growth, returns and firsts?  Or will we choose the path of negligence and loss?  Help us show the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission we stand on the right side of history, that we respect other species, and are not working in opposition to them.  We have not spent countless hours and resources building a narrative with a future, only to wash it away so a Canadian corporation can make a profit at our expense and the expense of OR-7 and the Rogue pack, the wolverine, and the remaining ancient carbon-storing forests of the Pacific Northwest. No LNG Rally, photo courtesy of Francis Eatherington

Now is the time to submit our comments; we have until noon on Friday the 13th for online comments or postmarked mailed comments.  If you haven’t already done so, you can submit your comments beginning here.

 

More information on the pipeline can be found here.

 

Photo Credits: Top left, Two pups from the Rogue Pack, June 2014. (Photo by ODFW).  Bottom right, No LNG protest. (Photo courtesy Francis Eatherington).                              

 

 

 

 

Jun25

A Trip to Washington DC

By Francis Eatherington

francis in DC

 
During the week of June 16, representatives of Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild, and KS Wild traveled to Washington DC to discuss two bills, one from Senator Wyden and one from Representative DeFazio. Both mandate an increase of logging on western Oregon BLM lands.
 
We had over 21 meetings with agency staff, senators and representatives. We pointed out that if laws like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) are weakened in Oregon (as both the Wyden and DeFazio bills propose) it sets a precedent nation-wide.
 
Both bills claim western Oregon BLM districts are in litigation “gridlock” because of environmental troublemakers. It’s not true. There is no gridlock. In December 2013 the BLM released information going back 6 years showing the BLM has been meeting its timber targets when averaged over all western Oregon districts. For instance, in 2012, the timber target for the 6 BLM districts with O&C land was 203 mmbf (million board feet). The exceeded that by offering 205.4 mmbf of mostly non-controversial, non-litigated timber sales. It is hyperbole to call this “gridlock.” Instead, the problem is that the BLM Districts with dryer forests (Medford and Roseburg) haven’t been able to meet their targets, which were set too high. But that is made up by the BLM districts with wetter forests (Coos Bay, Salem and Eugene) that have exceeded their target volume.
 
The Oregon congressional delegation is being pressured by counties who have such low tax revenue (and low tax rates) that they want to return to the days when they reaped in a huge share of BLM logging revenue.
 
We pointed out that reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools legislation would solve that problem on the federal level, while we recognized that state and county governments need to address the funding crises at local levels. For instance, the large percentage of private land in Oregon owned by the timber industry has a far lower tax rate than rural families pay. And if a timber corporation owns more than 5,000 acres, they pay even less taxes. Added to those tax gifts is the fact that industry has no fees on the large amount of raw-log exports from Oregon, unlike the payments required from industry in California and Washington State on raw-log exports.
 
On our last day in DC we discussed with legislators our concerns over exporting Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Veresen, a Canadian corporation, wants to use southern Oregon to export fracked gas to Asia. Veresen claims that if they can’t export, they will have to stop fracking. They want to take property from over 300 Oregonians for a pipeline to Coos Bay to feed a proposed LNG terminal in a tsunami and earthquake subduction zone.
 
While the staff of Senator Wyden seemed concerned when they met with us, they could offer no explanation to Senator Wyden’s statements that he “applauds” this project. They will get back to us on if he meant he applauds condemning his constituents lands, or he just applauds the release of huge amounts of methane in fracking, as methane is 100 times more polluting than coal when released unburned into the atmosphere. I’ll be sure to let you when they get back to us.
 
May07

Ninkasi T-shirt: Art Imitates Life But Also Inspires Action

By Bob Ferris
 
Our new collaborative T-shirt design with Ninkasi speaks symbolically and literally for rivers (at right). Ninkasi T Shirt
 
For instance, the river flowing out of us on the shirt and into a Ninkasi pint glass graphically represents our work to protect waters and Ninkasi’s significant support for efforts to keep our region’s waterways clean and wild.  This makes perfect sense as both our entities are headquartered in Eugene on the banks of a river and we operate in a region—Cascadia—that is defined by its cascading waters.  We are in water people.
 
the-narrows-viewpoint-north-umpqua-river-myrtle-creek-300x186Cascadia Wildlands' water work is sometimes pretty obvious and upfront such as our efforts to get suction dredgers out of our precious salmon steelhead waters, our work to protect tree-lined, riparian corridors from harm and our advocacy against harmful public lands grazing. And sometimes our water work is a little more cryptic like our battles against coal exports, LNG pipelines and carbon export facilities.   But all of it is directed towards keeping the water that we live near, play in and depend on for life in a wild state.
 
This shirt design should be taken literally as well, because Cascadia Wildlands works to protect the McKenzie and other nearby watersheds which is where Ninkasi other local breweries gets their water.  Our recent, successful lawsuit on the Goose Timber Sale and our efforts now on the ill-advised Green Mountain Project (please click below to take action) all act to protect this globally-known watershed for people, fish and even beer.  
 
 
For all of the above reasons we are proud of this shirt for all it represents.  And we happy that we will be able to start offering this shirt this coming Saturday May 10th at the Hoedown where we celebrate our partners in all of these efforts: You.  
 
So get your tickets now to come square dance, drink some Ninkasi (and Oakshire) brews, play games, eat monumental vegetarian chili and cavort around a campfire with the finest bunch of people found in Cascadia.  Yee Haw!
 

 

May01

The Pteropod in the Coal Mind

By Bob Ferris
 
The below video link from a Seattle Times article is important.pteropod-limacina-helicina_med
 
Now you might not have heard of pteropods before, but you have certainly heard of the relationship between canaries and coal miners. Pteropods are the canaries of our Cascadian oceans.  They are sensitive to acid because of their thin shells and they are telling us that we need to end or seriously curtail smokestack and tail pipe emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen (NOx) and sulfur (SOx) because this is affecting the bottom of a food chain that ultimately includes us.  
 
If you or someone you know has trouble grasping the concept of climate change or our peril from accelerating carbon and other emissions from this push to make the Pacific Northwest the carbon (i.e., coal, tar sand, oil shale, LNG and wood) export capital of North America, please introduce them to the graceful and transparent pteropods who are dissolving and dying to send us a message.

 

Apr23

Interior Department: The Need for a Gumption Pill

By Bob Ferris
 
gump•tion  [guhmp-shuhn]  noun Informal.
1. initiative; aggressiveness; resourcefulness: With his gumption he'll make a success of himself.
2. courage; spunk; guts: It takes gumption to quit a high-paying job.
3. common sense; shrewdness. 
From Dictionary.com 
 
There are times when I fantasize about products that I would like to see.  One of those products that is high on my list right now would be gumption pills.  For if this product existed I would send cases of !cid_0BAFA484-1336-41EC-865D-6D83DF8F3EE6these pills directly to 1849 C Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20240.
 
"The U.S. Department of the Interior protects America’s natural resources and heritage, honors our cultures and tribal communities, and supplies the energy to power our future." From US Department of Interior website.
 
What is there?  This is the address of the US Department of Interior whose mission is stated above.  And they could surely use this attribute of gumption at this point.  
 
Why would I say this?  Well let’s start with the fact that the Department in the form of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) just let an abusive and cantankerous cowboy parley his family’s $10 investment in 1948 in 160 acres of desert land with some water rights into a standoff of monumental proportion and consequence.  
 
Had this agency been taking gumption pills, they would have solved this situation two decades ago rather than letting it linger and fester.  As it was they had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards resolution by lawsuits and then they dropped the situation like a super-heated spud ending with a greater mess than when they started.   In the absence of gumption the squeaky wheeled bullies prevailed, the cattle are still there, and the American public lost on so many levels.  
 
020213Minam_odfw-1But this is not the only symptom that might be treated by the gumption pills.  We also have the recent proposal to delist the gray wolves in most of the lower 48 states.  Here again the Interior Department agency involved—the US Fish and Wildlife Service—listened to noisy bullies in the form of state wildlife agencies and anti-wolf trophy hunters and came up with a “plan” that was universally criticized by the scientific peer-review team and by conservationists around the globe.  
 
Then there is Powder River Basin coal.  I get the “supplies energy to power our future” part of Interior’s mission but how in any rational system of thought is selling coal to foreign companies and global corporations at prices that make it profitable for them to ship it 7000 miles to China an element of powering our future?  The same goes for fracking and LNG export, particularly when it should be balanced with the “protect America’s natural resources” aspect of their mission.  
 
And what is true for cattle grazing, wolves, coal and natural gas is also true for trees and forests.  The BLM has control of more than two and half million acres of federal forest lands in western Oregon.  Here the chainsaws of the forest industry seem to be heard better by BLM than those in Oregon or coming to Oregon to work in industries that are actually growing rather than shrinking in terms of economic contributions.  Here again BLM is faced with the choice of listening to the noisy few or the quiet many who come and stay in Oregon because of the natural amenities not because of clearcuts, landslides, or their love of jake-braking logging trucks.  
 
Unfortunately I could go on and on here, but the catalyst for this rambling rant is that suction dredge miners in Idaho are notifying the BLM that they are planning a protest to be staged on BLM lands and mendoAu ripping up bankperpetrated in the waters of the iconic Salmon River.  The suction dredgers plan, as I understand it, is to assemble themselves and their suction dredges on the banks of the Salmon and then run those machines in the river in protest of their recent legislative failure to get the US EPA banned from Idaho.  The legislation failed because it was judged unconstitutional so the suction dredgers—who frequently and passionately invoke the US Constitution as well as the 1872 Mining Law—are basically protesting the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution which is exactly what they invoke when they say that that state or local efforts to exclude suction are trumped by the 1872 Mining Law, which incidentally, does not mention suction dredging anywhere in that 1872 act.  
 
Robin Boyce, acting manager for the Cottonwood Field Office, said the BLM is working on a response to the event planned on the Salmon River in central Idaho near Riggins around the Fourth of July, the Lewiston Tribune (http://bit.ly/QCPIVP) reported Tuesday.
 
"We are still trying to figure out how this would work and when and if it is possible on BLM property," Boyce said.  From the Idaho Statesman April 22, 2014
 
In any case, the BLM response to this above was gumption-less.  It was a “we have to talk to our parents” sort of response.  Had they had their gumption pills the response could have been something along these lines: We will not grant you permission to use the federal lands under our care to break federal pollution laws.  Or simply: Hell no.  The latter would be so refreshing.
 
Cascadia Wildlands and other similar organizations regularly sue the Interior Department agencies.  We do so not because we like to but when the Department—in its many guises—lacks the gumption to enforce their own laws or regulations.  We do so not in a casual and reflexive manner but after long discussions and many notices to the agencies involved.  And when in the end they fail to act as the laws and regulation proscribe, we in essence become the “gumption pills” they need.  
 
I would love for the US Department of Interior to suddenly develop gumption and bring constructive resolve to all of the above issues from the Bundy fiasco to the weak wolf plan and from energy to the suction dredger lawlessness.  I am ready and willing to be surprised by agencies following the law and maybe even doing a little bit more.  But I am also prepared—along with my colleagues and partners who represent the un-listened to public and the speechless critters and ecosystems—to be the gumption that this is lacking in this important federal department.
 
Apr05

Putting the Cap on Coal Trains?

 

By Camilla Mortensen Eugene Weekly
April 4, 2013
 
Bad news for coal is good news for clean energy advocates and conservationists: Not only has the Port of Coos Bay’s exclusive negotiating agreement with the last of the companies trying to export coal ended, a Eugene attorney has also filed a notice of intent to sue coal companies and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway for violating the Clean Water Act by emitting coal into waterways in Washington. 
 
While the Coos Bay coal proposal that would have sent coal trains through Eugene seems to be dead in the water, the Northwest still faces four more coal export proposals. And Bob Ferris of Cascadia Wildlands, one of the local groups that fought the Coos Bay proposal, says, “Another set of partners might come in or some worse proposal, we have to be constantly vigilant.”
 
Charlie Tebbutt, who filed the intent to sue on behalf of the Sierra Club, Columbia Riverkeeper and three other groups, says that “fundamentally, every rail shipment through the state of Washington and throughout the country discharges coal in significant amounts, and it has to stop.” He adds, “It’s a clear violation of the Clean Water Act and pollutes rivers and streams.” 
 
The conservation groups say that “by BNSF’s own figures, the four daily coal trains traveling through Washington heading to Canada or to the state’s last remaining coal plant combine to lose a staggering 120 tons of coal dust per day.” And they add that the soft, crumbly Powder River Basin coal from Montana and Wyoming contains “mercury, arsenic, uranium and hundreds of other heavy metal toxins harmful to fish and human health.”
 
Laura Hennessey of the Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports sent out a press release in response to the suit, calling it a “nuisance” and citing a BNSF statement saying it “is committed to preventing coal dust from escaping while in transit.” 
 
Tebbutt says that railroads have pointed the finger at the coal companies and vice-versa, and “it is up to the industry to figure out the problem.” He says that not only do the coal dust, lumps of coal and petcoke come off the tops of the largely uncovered train cars, it also drips with moisture off the bottom of the cars.
 
BNSF has estimated about 500 pounds of coal blow off a single open car, according to the notice of intent to sue the railroad and the coal companies. Tebbutt says that under the Clean Water Act, each rail car is a point source of pollution and “each discharge from each car to each waterway constitutes a separate violation.” The intent to sue says at the end of the 60-day period the groups will file a citizen suit “for the applicable statutory maximum for each violation, presently $37,500 per day for each violation.” 
 
Tebbutt is not new to coal pollution suits; along with Megan Anderson of the Western Environmental Law Center, he represented the Sierra Club and reached a multimillion-dollar landmark settlement with a coal mine and power plant in New Mexico. The suit sought to stop ground and surface water contamination from toxic coal ash and called for spending about $8 million on restoring the watershed and controlling pollution.
 
Tebbutt says, “The trains have been discharging for years, and state and federal agencies have ignored the problem so citizens are taking action to stop it.”
 
Apr02

Port of Coos Bay coal-export proposal ends after 18 months of work

By Scott Learn, The Oregonian 

April 1, 2013
 
Another Northwest coal export project has dropped off the boards.
 
The Port of Coos Bay said today that it has ended its exclusive negotiating agreement with Metro Ports of California, which had been exploring a coal export terminal in Coos Bay.
 
The project was one of five under consideration in Oregon and Washington. It was also the only one likely to bring mile-plus coal trains through southeast Portland, Milwaukie, Salem and Eugene.
 
The deadline for Metro Ports exclusive option ended on Sunday, after 1 1/2 years of work and several extensions. Earlier this year, two other players in the deal dropped out: Mitsui and Korean Electric Power Corporation.
 
The Port announced late today that it had ended the agreement. A Metro Ports spokeswoman said the company had no comment.
 
In a port press release, CEO David Koch said the port would continue to pursue development that focused on the coastal harbor's "unique characteristics," including developable land, a short distance to Pacific trade routes and experienced maritime labor.
 
The port may still pursue coal export, said David Petrie, founder of Coos Waterkeeper, which opposed the deal. But expensive rail improvements needed to accommodate coal trains make the prospects "highly unlikely," Petrie said.
 
It's the second coal export project to fall by the wayside. Last year, RailAmerica abandoned plans to construct a coal storage and export facility at the Port of Grays Harbor.
 
Developers looking to ship Montana and Wyoming coal to Asia have applied for permits for export terminals in Boardman, Longview, Wash., and near Bellingham, Wash.
 
Terminal developer Kinder Morgan has not decided whether to apply for permits for a terminal at Port Westward, on the Columbia River near Clatskanie.
 
The Coos Bay project would have shipped up to 11 million tons of coal a year to Asia. The project would have brought $250 million in investment, $182 million in upgrades to the Coos Bay Rail Link from Eugene and 165 permanent jobs.
 
Port staff will begin internal discussions of "a broad range of marine cargo opportunities," the port's release said, and may ask the port commission later this year to solicit proposals.
 
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