Robert F. Kennedy warns Oregon about coal

Speaking at a rally in Pioneer Courthouse Square on Monday, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said coal doesn't make good business sense.

Speaking at a rally in Pioneer Courthouse Square on Monday, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said coal doesn't make good business sense.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. captivated a sun-drenched crowd Monday afternoon warning Oregon lawmakers and citizens alike about the dangers of allowing coal export facilities to locate along the Columbia River.

"Coal is crime," said Kennedy, a high-profile environmental attorney and president of the Waterkeeper Alliance. "I've been fighting it for 30 years."

Several proposals for coal terminals are being floated involving Pacific Northwest ports, prompting Gov. John Kitzhaber last month to ask for a full federal review of the export plans including potential environmental impacts.

Speaking with reporters following his talk, Kennedy said, "The moment they disclose an honest and true environmental impact statement they will be laughed out of town."

The noontime rally planned by Columbia Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, Climate Solutions, Friends of the Gorge, Greenpeace and others featured Kennedy along with Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen, Paul Lumley, chair of the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission, and others.


View photos from Monday's coal protest >>


During the rally, Kennedy evoked West Virginia, describing health, economic and environmental impacts of the coal industry and accusing coal companies of essentially "liquidating the state for cash."

"This is the best city in the country," Kennedy said, referring to Portland. "But if you let coal in, this city will look like West Virginia."

But in addition to talking about cancer and mercury poisoning, Kennedy also makes a business case against the coal companies.

"I'm in favor of free market capitalism," Kennedy said. "Coal companies could not compete without subsidies and the exclusion of external costs."

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