ANOTHER VOICE: State should deny coal project permits

As elected officials in the Columbia River Gorge, we are frequently asked to weigh in on projects that affect our local quality of life. Few, however, present such potentially adverse economic and environmental effects as the continuing expansion of coal shipments.

Only a few trains currently transport coal through the Gorge, and already we’re seeing the damage caused by coal dust on our landscape and in our waterways. Now we face a new threat: the prospect of coal shipments by barge for export to Asia through Ambre Energy’s Morrow Pacific project.

This project would nearly double current barge traffic in the Gorge, harming river recreation, increasing risks to salmon populations and representing a significant safety threat from barge crashes or fires. Six city and community councils in the National Scenic Area have passed resolutions expressing their concerns regarding coal exports or calling for additional study, including our own cities of Hood River, Mosier and The Dalles.

Determining whether or not to issue a permit for a project of this magnitude takes careful consideration, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality should not rush to a decision on the issuance of an air permit for the Morrow Pacific project. To do so would be irresponsible, since an environmental impact statement has yet to be announced and the public has not been given the opportunity to have its concerns studied.

Ambre Energy recently has pushed premature permitting demands on Oregon state agencies. The company originally balked at the Department of State Lands’ requests for more information about the potential effects of the coal terminal before issuing a dredging permit for the project. It wasn’t until just before the permit application was set to expire on April 1 that the company changed its tone and agreed to a five-month extension for the Morrow Pacific project’s permit application.

We applaud the state for requiring additional information and studies on this proposal, and we are relieved that Ambre Energy is being forced to provide this information about the effects of its projects on aquatic life and habitat in the Columbia River, tribal fishing treaty rights and cultural resources. However, we are deeply troubled by this company’s reluctance to provide essential details on the true scope and impact of its proposed terminal.

We call upon the federal government to establish a national energy policy that will preclude the export of American coal to distant lands, where it fuels industries that compete for American jobs.

Exporting coal not only harms our environment, but it harms our national and local economies as well. We urge Oregon officials to protect special places like the Columbia River Gorge by denying statewide permits for coal export terminals.

Andrea Rogers is the mayor of Mosier. Kate McBride is a Hood River city councilor. Dan Spatz is a city councilor for The Dalles.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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