Letters to the editor for July 15, 2013

By Observer Upload July 15, 2013 10:35 am
Letters to the editor for July 15, 2013

Coal trains could create problems here and overseas

To The Editor:

Many are concerned about a proposal by an Australian company to bring huge quantities of uncovered coal by train through the Northwest from Wyoming to be shipped overseas.

It will be burned using less rigid standards, continuing the pollution from Asia already reaching the U.S. There was a DEQ hearing July 9 in Hermiston to allow for the Morrow Pacific Coal Export Terminal to be built for this project. This will impact safety, air and water for the entire distance along the route and create some jobs but at what long-term cost?

Oregon Rural Action has more information and is supporting a serious look and assessment at the impacts along the route that includes our area. It appears none of our agencies are taking a look at the whole package of what all this is about. Instead, the reviews cover only certain aspects of the complicated plan.

It was great to see coverage in the June 24 Observer of some serious issues facing the Northwest. Rail cars full of crude oil are going from North Dakota to Longview, Wash., and maybe Tacoma, Wash., and Grays Harbor County,
Wash. The report said oil would be loaded onto barges and sent to West Coast refineries. 

In the same Region in Brief, the article covered a Montana tribe leasing an estimated 1.4 billion tons of coal (that is more than the U.S. consumes annually) to a Wyoming company that wants to increase coal exports to Asia.

We have made improvements in using coal and oil more efficiently and safely, but now it will be shipped through many of our states, sold overseas and the pollution will be even worse. 

Look at the photos of the tar sands project, the mass destruction and limited cleanup and repair. In Minnesota last March, 30,000 gallons of oil spilled. 

On July 8, a train full of oil blew up in a town in Canada, killed 15, and dozens are still missing. What about the continual release of coal particles along the way from shipping the proposed
9 million tons a year? 

Some companies expect to make gigantic profits or they wouldn’t be proposing these projects, which effect so many for so many years. And the aftermath?

Thanks to The Observer for covering these important issues, and please, take some time to get informed. The permits may be granted, but our legislatures need to be paying attention to what this will do to our areas and the nation in exchange for how many jobs and whose profits and where the profits go.

Maxine Hines

La Grande

Bicyclists need a safe place
to ride in La Grande, too

To the Editor:

The article entitled Downtown Safety Risk (June 24, 2013) presents a narrow view of bicycle use of downtown sidewalks and misses an opportunity to identify solutions. Yes, there are some kids that bike or skateboard too fast on the sidewalks. 

But many others bike the sidewalks too. 


I lived in La Grande for several years and biked daily, rain, snow or shine. I often utilized the sidewalks downtown, especially when I was accessing a business, because it didn’t feel safe biking in the street unless you moved fast and took over the lane, and it was evident that many motorists were impatient with bicyclists and did not want to share the road. 

These are potentially dangerous conditions for bicyclists. I biked slow and cautious on the sidewalks out of respect for others’ safety.

If you want bicyclists off the sidewalks, then offer them somewhere else safe to ride. Downtown needs bike lanes. Fortunately there are good examples of cities that have worked hard to accommodate bicycles downtown, such as Missoula, Mont., and Corvallis. 

These towns also prohibit riding bikes on the sidewalks, and I respect these regulations because I have a safe place in the street. 

The city of La Grande can encourage more people to bike by creating safe places for people to do so. That’s good for downtown businesses. For example, many college students bike downtown to enjoy a meal or a night on the town and this helps support a more vibrant downtown. 

And if I’m a parent of a college student, bicycle safety is a very important issue for me. 

I hope La Grande will develop a well-planned network of bike lanes that gives everyone a safe way to access the beautiful downtown historic district. 

David Mildrexler


Parks department quick to respond to graffiti complaints 

To The Editor,

I’m really impressed and appreciative of the La Grande Parks Department and the great job they do in maintaining our parks.  Twice I’ve notified them about graffiti at Pumpkin Park and it
is painted over or removed within a day. I’m grateful they recognize that clean parks help discourage further

Thanks for helping to make La Grande a great place to raise a family.  

Meg Hawks

La Grande