Here’s another sign that coal could be going the way of the dodo in the United States.
Officials in the state of Oregon have rejected a permit that would have allowed the export of 8.8 million tons of this dirty fossil fuel each year to South Korean and other Asian countries.
Oregon’s Department of State Lands recently blocked Australia-based Ambre Energy’s plans to construct the Morrow Pacific coal export terminal on the Columbia River, Oregon Live reports. In a statement, the state agency said the project “would unreasonably interfere with the paramount policy of this state to preserve the use of its waters for navigation, fishing, and public recreation.”
Although the project isn’t officially kaput (since Ambre Energy can appeal the decision), it’s clear that they would have an angry public to contend with if they did. According to a press release from the Sierra Club, more than 20,000 citizens pressed Governor John Kitzhaber to nix the permit, and about 600 Northwest businesses and business leaders either expressed concern or outright opposition to coal export. Not only that, 3,000 medical professionals and public health advocates and 165 physicians have voiced their concern about the dangers of coal to human health, the release says.
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The state has also said that the project would destroy protected tribal fishing areas on the Columbia River. “Coal exports would devastate my business and jeopardize many other family operations and industries that depend on a healthy, clean Columbia River,” Mike Seely, of Seely Family Farms, said. “[The] decision shows that Oregon communities and leaders agree: The threats of coal exports are far too risky for our economies and natural resources.”
And while we should all hail Oregon’s decision as a major win for the environment, it’s really just the beginning. As Vox reports, there are two major projects being proposed in Washington that would export a lot more coal than the amount that Oregon just prevented. If approved, the Gateway Pacific project would ship 48 million tons annually and the Longview port would ship 44 million tons per year.
Looks like we still have some work to do to stop coal for good.
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