BOARDMAN, Ore. - State officials held a hearing today on whether to issue a water quality permit to Ambre Energy’s proposed coal export terminal at the Port of Morrow.
Called a 401 Water Quality Permit, the permit would be issued by the Oregon State Department of Environmental Quality. While the draft certification considers how a new dock would impact water quality in the Columbia River, it does not look at other potential impact areas including increased barge and ship traffic, the risk of fuel spills and vessel collisions, and threats to delicate salmon habitat along all 219 miles of the potential shipping route from the Port of Morrow, down the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, and finally onto ocean-going vessels at Port Westward.
The coal terminal also poses risks to water quality from coal dust that blows off uncovered coal train cars.
In response, Pendleton resident Robert Hall issued the following statement:
“The Columbia River is the foundation of our Eastern Oregon tourism economy. A coal terminal, and the dusty coal trains and barges that come along with it will deter people from coming here either to live or visit. The DEQ needs to expand their study and look at all water-related impacts from coal export, not just at the Port of Morrow.”
The hearing comes just days before the Oregon Department of State Lands is expected to issue its decision on a state lands permit for the same facility. However, the Department of State Lands required Ambre Energy to conduct a full analysis of potential impacts before making its final decision.
POWER PAST COAL is an ever-growing alliance of health groups, businesses and environmental, clean-energy, faith and community organizations working to stop coal export off the West Coast. Visit www.powerpastcoal.org for more information.