[Oeva-list] FW: Merkley Calls for Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on Coal Projects in Oregon

john.p.christian john.p.christian at gmail.com
Thu Jul 19 10:22:50 PDT 2012


[John's reply] Jeff Merkley requests EIS for Coal export facilities proposed
for Oregon.

 



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Courtney Warner Crowell
July 18, 2012
503-326-2747

 

Merkley Calls for Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on Coal
Projects in Oregon

 

Washington, D.C. - Oregon's Senator Jeff Merkley today sent a letter calling
for the U.S.  Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Land Management to
conduct a comprehensive, expedited programmatic Environmental Impact
Statement (EIS) for the proposed coal export facilities in Oregon and
Washington. 

 

"The proposed export projects are a major undertaking but there has been
significant uncertainty about the proposed facilities and communities are
divided about the benefits and consequences of exporting coal," wrote
Merkley. "For that reason, I believe it is imperative that we do all we can
to ensure there is full public disclosure of information about, and analysis
of, the proposed facilities."

 

Merkley also urged that the EIS be expedited so as not to leave the projects
in limbo.  "The programmatic EIS should be conducted on the fastest timeline
possible, preferably within a year, so as to not unnecessarily delay the
decision-making process," he wrote.

 

The full text of the letter is below.

 

July 18, 2012

 

The Honorable John McHugh                                                 

Secretary of the Army


1400 Defense Pentagon


Washington, D.C. 20301-1400                                               

 

The Honorable Ken Salazar

Secretary of the Interior

U.S. Department of the Interior

1849 C Street, NW, Room 5665

Washington, D.C. 20240

 

Dear Secretary McHugh and Secretary Salazar,

 

I have been talking with Oregonians in town hall meetings across the state,
and have heard a great deal of input about the proposed coal export
facilities in Oregon and Washington. These comments reflect a broad spectrum
of opinions and some deep differences of opinion within and among
communities that would be affected.  Like many of the Oregonians I have
heard from, I am supportive of efforts to increase exports of American
products, especially through Oregon's ports.  I recognize and appreciate
that these projects would create much-needed jobs and economic development
for local communities. Yet I also recognize and appreciate that many
Oregonians have serious concerns relating to local and global impacts of
these projects.  

 

I am, therefore, writing to request that the Army Corps and the Bureau of
Land Management conduct a comprehensive, expedited programmatic
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed coal export facilities
in Oregon and Washington.  

 

The proposed export projects are a major undertaking but there has been
significant uncertainty about the proposed facilities and communities are
divided about the benefits and consequences of exporting coal.  For that
reason, I believe it is imperative that we do all we can to ensure there is
full public disclosure of information about, and analysis of, the proposed
facilities.  A programmatic EIS would help put more information before the
public and enable more comprehensive and informed public discourse. At the
same time, the programmatic EIS should be conducted on the fastest timeline
possible, preferably within a year, so as to not unnecessarily delay the
decision-making process.

 

Some local communities see significant economic development opportunities
and jobs in the potential coal export facilities.  The potential benefits
include the construction of coal transport infrastructure, jobs on trains
and barges and at ports, and improvements to our region's rail and shipping
infrastructure.  In addition, it is likely that additional jobs for
manufacturing and operating barges would be created in Oregon.  Permanent,
family-wage jobs would be created through preliminary labor agreements
between unions and the companies proposing the exports.  At a time when we
need to be doing everything possible to promote economic development and get
Oregonians back to work, the proposals could have benefits for our state.

 

Some local communities have also expressed deep concerns about the impact of
the proposed facilities. These include the impact of coal dust on public
health or on local businesses, and the effects of increased rail congestion.
Some residents have described their worry that small towns could essentially
be divided in half by very lengthy coal trains for long periods of time.

 

Many people are concerned about larger-scale impacts.  Conservation
organizations have expressed concern that the proposed projects would offer
developing Asian economies a significant new source of coal that they would
otherwise not be able to access. They assert that this access, and the
resulting effect on coal prices and demand, could change the fundamental
economics of coal in Asia, increasing dependence on coal and slowing growth
in the use of cleaner energy sources.  Some are also concerned that further
dependence on coal in Asia will lead the amount exported from the U.S. to
increase significantly in the future. These developments could have a
significant impact on climate change.

 

A programmatic EIS, or any type of EIS the Army Corps conducts, must be
comprehensive in nature, and consider both local and global issues raised by
the public.  Relatively localized issues to be studied should include
potential impacts on public health from coal dust and diesel pollution;
effects on water quality; effects on listed species such as Chinook Salmon
and steelhead in the Columbia and Willamette rivers; effects on other
critical habitat and aquatic resources; effects on cultural resources and
historic sites; and the effects of mining activity on public lands.  In
addition, the EIS should assess the impacts of increased vessel traffic on
the Columbia River, including effects on navigational and maritime safety
concerns; and the impacts of increased rail traffic, including noise and
traffic delays for events such as emergency vehicles at rail crossings.

 

Global impacts of coal exports to be studied must include effects on climate
change (including cumulative additions to global greenhouse gas emissions),
global energy markets, energy security, and the clean energy economy.  The
changing climate is already altering our environment, and will have
particularly significant negative impacts on our state, including sea level
rise, ocean acidification, and an increase in the frequency and intensity of
extreme weather events like storms, floods, and summer droughts.

 

These issues are complex and have major implications.  They raise questions
about whether global environmental and energy policy should be decided based
on project-by-project applications or whether other policy forums should be
engaged.  A programmatic EIS would be one step toward ensuring more
comprehensive analysis and informed decision-making.   We should not make
public policy decisions that could constitute significant moves toward a
more coal-dependent future without gathering and publicly disclosing the
best possible information and engaging in the appropriate analysis.  I
support an expedited programmatic EIS for that reason: it would enable a
full and thorough examination of the issues to best inform public policy
decisions for Oregon and for the nation.

 

    Sincerely,

 

 

   Jeffrey A. Merkley

                                                                   United
States Senator


 

 

Cc:

The Honorable Nancy Sutley

Chair, Council on Environmental Quality

Executive Office of the President

Washington, DC 20500

 

Major General Merdith W.B. (Bo) Temple          

Headquarters

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers      

441 G Street NW

Washington, D.C. 20314-1000

 

Mr. Robert Abbey, Director

Bureau of Land Management

U.S. Department of the Interior

1849 C Street, NW, Room 5665

Washington, D.C. 20240

 

###

 

 

Courtney Warner Crowell

Deputy Communications Director

Office of Senator Jeff Merkley

Phone: 503-326-2747

Cell: 503-702-3819

courtney_warner_crowell at merkley.senate.gov

 

Sign up for <http://merkley.senate.gov/newsletter/>  Senator Merkley's
E-newsletter

Become a Supporter <http://facebook.com/jeffmerkley>  on Facebook
Follow Jeff on Twitter <http://twitter.com/senjeffmerkley> 

 

[John's reply] 

 

Supplied by:

John Valley

Field Representative

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley

121 SW Salmon St.

Suite 1400

Portland, OR 97204

http://www.merkley.senate.gov 

 

ph: 503-326-3395

fax: 503-326-2900

john_valley at merkley.senate.gov

Sign up for Senator <http://merkley.senate.gov/newsletter/>  Merkley's
E-newsletter

Become a Supporter on Facebook <http://facebook.com/jeffmerkley> 
Follow Jeff on Twitter <http://twitter.com/senjeffmerkley> 

 

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