Indian Tribes in the Northwest have added their voices to those calling for a more comprehensive analysis of the environmental impacts for the proposed coal export ports for the Pacific Northwest.


Tribes Of The Northwest Say ‘No Short Cuts’ For Coal Export Proposals

Dozens of Indian Tribes from around the Northwest came together Thursday to call for a full environmental analysis of proposals to export coal from up to five ports in Oregon and Washington.

The 57 tribes hammered out their position At a convention hosted by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indians

Prominent tribal leaders voiced concerns about the health, safety and environmental impacts of exporting coal from Montana and Wyoming through the Northwest.

The Northwest tribes have joined environmental groups in calling for a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement of each of the terminals. That would take a broader look at the effects of increased rail traffic through tribal lands and communities all along the route of the coal trains, instead of just reviewing each terminal on an individual basis.
The Tribes along with a collection of environmental groups face a lavishly funded media campaign now underway to create support for the coal ports. The pro-Coal ad blitz has taken the place of ads for the presidential race in the Northwest where we have no swing states. The pro Coal propaganda has been bombarding Northwest airwaves for two months now. See: Professor compares exporting coal to exporting firewood ~ Big Coal launches astroturf ad blitz in NW

Industries gear up for the epic fight over NW coal ports

Citizens interested in the Gateway Pacific Terminal, which under current plans will serve primarily to export coal to Asia, may weigh in until Jan. 21 in a variety of manners.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington Department of Ecology, and Whatcom County are jointly conducting the Environmental Impact Statement process.  They hope to publish a draft EIS in 2014
Bellingham will lead off the scoping public hearings on Saturday, Oct. 27, and the four-hour event will test a new hearings format. The remainder of the meetings, as announced by Ecology, include: Friday Harbor, Nov. 3; Mount Vernon, Nov. 5; Seattle, Nov. 13; Ferndale, Nov. 29; Spokane, Dec. 4 and Vancouver, Dec. 12.
The railroad's history, however, has been to pay no more than the 5 percent limit set by federal regulations on projects to mitigate railroad impacts on local communities — such as overpasses and grade crossings, some of which would be in the millions of dollars. Ross Macfarlane, senior advisor at Climate Solutions, asked Rose in an open letter to be specific in terms of aid to localities. Rose has not replied, Macfarlane said this week.

Rose's visit to Vancouver, Seattle, and Bellingham underscores BNSF's deepening concern that rail issues will be brought into the EIS for Cherry Point and Millennium. On May 14, Rose wrote to Gov. Chris Gregoire, assuring her that BNSF was capable of handling the increased freight for coal terminals, and that train-counts were "exaggerated" by critics, and that "virtually no measurable coal dust" would result from the trains. The letter was long on assurances and short on specifics. A similar letter was sent in August to Whatcom County Executive Jack Louws.

Although the railroad is the focus of much opposition to the terminal, other issues may ultimately play a larger role in a final decision. There is great concern in the San Juan Islands about adding nearly a thousand very large coal ships a year to traffic in key shipping lanes. The inclusion of Friday Harbor on the list of community hearings is a direct nod to concerns regarding shipping safety, impact on fisheries, and concern over ballast brought in from Asia.

Lummi Tribe joins the opposition to Whatcom coal port

Lummi leaders announced their opposition at a "Xwe' chi' eXen Gathering" Friday, presided over by Hereditary Chief Bill James and Lummi Nation Chairman Cliff Cultee; about 250 Lummis and guests from the area.  Xwe' chi' eXen is the ancestral name for Cherry Point, a peninsula projecting into Puget Sound adjacent to the Lummi Reservation.

Opposition to the export terminal was emotional and personal for several of the tribal leaders. "This is the home of the ancient ancestors and it's up to us today to protect mother earth," Chief James told the audience after introducing his topic in the Lummi language. "Their spirits are here . . . remember what we are doing to mother earth." Chairman Cultee urged members of the Lummi Nation to work together, but also to work with other tribes dealing with export of coal; "don't just send it someplace else."

Coal clash: Multnomah County to examine health hazards from coal dust and diesel

By Scott Learn, The Oregonian

On dust, opponents note that some coal-burning utilities are challenging the requirements to use surfactants. And railroad testing found an average of 225 pounds of coal lost from per car during a 567-mile trip. For a 135-car train, that's about 15 tons.

Much of that coal dust lands in the rivers these rail routes follow for hundreds of miles throughout the Northwest including the Columbia (where the high winds are notorious). If there's any fishermen out there who aren't worried about these proposed Mega-Ports and all the filthy coal trains snaking along our rivers to reach them, then you should be.
Analysis: Coal fight looms, Keystone-like, over U.S. Northwest

(Reuters) - Call it the Keystone of coal: a regulatory and public relations battle between environmentalists and U.S. coal miners akin to the one that has defined the Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline.

Mining interests won a battle last week when the Army Corps of Engineers called for a quick study of plans to open the first coal port on the west coast at Oregon's Port of Morrow on the Columbia River, a review that will weigh impacts of hauling coal, not burning it.

Coal port skeptics say the ruling is ripe for challenge in the courts and they foresee a drawn-out fight over the review.

"I'm afraid that by choosing to perform a less stringent analysis today, the Corps will ultimately create a longer delay," Oregon Senator Ron Wyden said in a statement. Wyden, who is due to lead the Energy and Natural Resources Committee if Democrats hold the Senate, has said he supports a full review of the project and is reserving judgment until it is completed.

Northwest Coal Ports are indeed the next big Keystone XL like fight over climate change and the dirtiest forms of energy production. We Northwesterners have just begun to fight. But we need your help.

Originally posted to Lefty Coaster on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 01:07 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots, PacNW Kossacks, EcoJustice, Climate Hawks, and Native American Netroots.

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