ORA members oppose coal terminal

July 10, 2013 11:37 am

Hundreds of people testified at public hearings in Portland and Hermiston Tuesday regarding a proposal for a coal transfer terminal in Boardman. 

Among those who testified in Hermiston was a group of eight individuals opposed to the plan who traveled from La Grande with Oregon Rural Action.

“We had a really good blend of people,” said organizer Tova Woyciechowicz.

Tuesday’s hearings before the Department of Environmental Quality included testimony from proponents and opponents of the plan that would permit Ambre Energy to transport about 8.8 million tons of coal from Montana and Wyoming through the Port of Morrow and on toward Portland for export to Asia.

Union County farmer and ORA member Susan Boyd said she fears such action could endanger local wheat exports.

“Our wheat has to travel by railroad or barge to Portland. That could have some impact on us,” she said. “If they get clogged up, we may be forced to truck more, and trucking, of course, is much more expensive than railroad or barge.”

Boyd said though she is personally opposed to the coal trains, she only testified that the DEQ needs to do more before any permit is issued.

“(The DEQ) has only studied part of the problem,” she said. 

The hearings ran from 8 a.m. to
8 p.m. and had two-hour time slots that allotted for 30 speakers each. Woyciechowicz said 28 speakers testified in the time slot the ORA members were in and that 18 of them were opposed to the coal terminal.

Bill Whitaker, ORA board member, testified that he’s concerned for the future.

“I’m an Oregon grandfather concerned about the health and well-being of all grandchildren who will be hurt by climate change exacerbated by burning Powder River coal,” he said.

Boyd noted that it doesn’t matter where coal is burned, it still creates air pollution that can affect Oregonians.

Supporters of the terminal have said it will create jobs and reap economic benefits for the area. The coal would arrive by train at Boardman and be moved downriver on barges to be loaded on ships for export.

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