Sen. Merkley, citing climate fears, wants big study of coal export plans

It calls for the Army Corps of Engineers and Interior’s Bureau of Land Management to craft the study.

The letter notes that some communities see big economic opportunities from the proposed projects. “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,” it states.

But the same letter – which calls for an expedited study in less than a year –  highlights environmental concerns, ranging from coal dust affecting residents to global warming.

Here’s a blurb from the July 18 letter:

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.