National Wildlife Federation report cites coal risks
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
A National Wildlife Federation report released Tuesday morning outlines risks for both human and wildlife habitats posed by building coal export facilities in the Pacific Northwest. It also makes the case that the benefits, including jobs and an increase in international trade, don't outweigh potential consequences.
The report (available for download here) was produced in partnership with Northwest Native American tribes and sport fishermen.
The new communications push comes less than a week after a group of coal companies, labor organizations and others launched a media and public relations campaign in favor of the coal export projects under the banner of the Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports.
The National Wildlife Federation report, "The True Cost of Coal," includes mapped breakdown of six proposed Northwest coal export projects and tallies of the proposed 150 million tons of coal that would begin moving through the region if all the projects are ultimately approved. The federation pays particular attention to the potential impacts that the export activity would have on fish.
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The risks mentioned in the report for the Pacific Northwest include:
- Diesel emissions and coal dust from long coal trains and the impacts, such as mercury deposits, on waterways.
- Increased barge traffic and port construction would harm fish habitat.
- The increase in coal burning in Asia would exacerbate climate concerns and ocean acidification, posing additional risks to salmon and steelhead populations.
The report also cites the Yakima Treaty of 1855, which promised the Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest access to healthy fish populations.
Joining the calls of politicians including Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., the federation closes its report by requesting a comprehensive review of all export proposals by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including a consultation with the Endangered Species Act. It also requests that Northwest tribes are involved to ensure the facilities won't impact treaty rights.
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