Kitzhaber: “It is time once and for all to say NO to coal exports from the Pacific Northwest."

By Doug Moore of Portland, Oregon. Doug is the executive director of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters.

Last week, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters held its Annual Celebration for the Environment. Known as Ecoprom, it’s an Earth Day tradition that brings together over 900 people who care about Oregon’s Natural Legacy.

This year, our featured speaker was our own Governor John Kitzhaber. In a speech bookended by a thoughtful remembrance of legendary Oregon Wild advocate Tim Lillebo, the Governor made a statement on coal exports that was nothing short of historic big news.

His words from Saturday night speak best for themselves: “It is time once and for all to say NO to coal exports from the Pacific Northwest.” The audience roared their approval of that powerful statement by the Governor, and we here at OLCV could not agree more.

The Governor’s reasoning and the timeline he sets forth is important to note:

“Several Columbia River tribes have provided documentation that the proposed facility would destroy at least three Native American fishing sites protected by treaty. The information, along with prior submittals, also shows that increased barge traffic would interfere with fishing and other public uses of the Columbia River… Ambre Energy has been given two years to show that its proposal will meet Oregon’s regulatory standards and to date has been unable to demonstrate its ability to do so. The time has come for a decision and I expect the Oregon Department of State Lands to make its decision by no later than May 31, 2014.”

While we all countdown to May 31st, I want to recognize Oregon’s tribes for their continued commitment to preserving natural resources, specifically The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.

Finally, the Governor mentioned the need for state action on climate change, not later but right now. Oregon’s environmental community stands with the Governor in support of the Clean Fuels Program, more energy efficient public buildings, and more robust analysis of the varied impacts of large projects like coal export terminals.

Of course, all of us at OLCV hope that our friends at BlueOregon will join us in taking next steps on climate change – and saying thank you to the Governor for his leadership.

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