Gov. Kitzhaber calls for full review of coal export plans

Gov. John Kitzhaber on Wednesday called for a sweeping federal review of the plans for coal export facilities in the Pacific Northwest.

Gov. John Kitzhaber on Wednesday called for a sweeping federal review of the plans for coal export facilities in the Pacific Northwest.

Gov. John Kitzhaber on Wednesday announced his formal request to the federal government for a comprehensive environmental review and assessment of the significant number of coal export facilities being proposed in the Pacific Northwest.

"I have grave concerns about proceeding in that direction in the absence of a full national discussion," Kitzhaber said in a speech at the Future Energy Conference in Portland.

Kitzhaber announced his request, which he made in a letter to agency heads for the Department of the Army, the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Land Management., saying he wanted to avoid what he called the federal government's habit of "deciding by not deciding."

In his letter, Kitzhaber expressed concern that the environmental, community, economic, transportation and energy security impacts of additional 157 million tons of coal exports being proposed, which would be routed through Northwest ports and shipped to Asia, would be shouldered by Oregon and Washington.

"We have the responsibility to have a full national debate," Kitzhaber said in his speech on Wednesday.

Kitzhaber is requesting an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act to review concerns including:

  • Increased vessel traffic on the Columbia River.
  • Concerns about water quality and potential impact on fish.
  • Coal dust emissions and other air pollutants.
  • Increased rail traffic.

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