Oregon's future clouded by coal exports

By Kate Lore of Portland. Kate is the Social Justice Minister at First Unitarian Church of Portland.

For a number of years now Oregon’s future has been clouded by corporate plans to make the Northwest a central hub for exporting U.S. coal to Asia. These plans continue to move forward, despite widespread public concern about the health threats and pollution that come with the mining, shipping and burning of coal.

The Oregon Department of State Lands has just issued its 5th extension to Ambre Energy for its proposed permit to build a major coal dock in the Columbia River. This, in spite of Ambre Energy's failure to provide adequate information on its project impacts.

The governor ultimately controls the Department of State Lands and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Governor Kitzhaber should use his authority to halt this greed-driven agenda.

The moral and ethical implications of this issue are enormous--and not just for the future of Oregon. It’s the people of the Philippines facing devastation from the very type of record storms expected from a warmer climate. It’s the future of the Chinese workers that live next to the coal plants where coal exported from Oregon would be burned. Because of this understanding, thousands of people from across Oregon and Washington are joining a growing chorus of opposition against turning the Columbia River (and the communities along the way) into a coal chute to Asia. It is a threat to everyone who calls the Earth home - including our own Governor Kitzhaber.

Kitzhaber has expressed concerns about coal exports. However, we need more than mere expressions. We need action from an engaged and active leader who will stand up to this grave environmental threat. We Oregonians elected Governor Kitzhaber because he tends to be a free-thinker who doesn't just follow the pack. We need that free-thinking spirit now more than ever.

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