Gorge city leaders laud denial of coal terminal proposal

On May 9 Kinder Morgan announced that it would drop plans to build a coal export terminal at the Port of St. Helens along the Columbia River in Oregon.

Over the past two years, communities in the Columbia River Gorge have voiced concerns over six coal export proposals.

Community leaders are asking for detailed environmental analysis or expressing outright opposition to coal exports plans that would transport a combined 150 million tons of coal per year through the Gorge, which is a federally designated National Scenic Area.

Kinder Morgan’s St. Helen’s project is the third to have fizzled since proposals began to emerge in 2011, although other sites may still be investigated by the company.

“This is certainly good news for residents of the Gorge,” said Kate McBride, Hood River City Council member. “Our communities are on the front-lines of all of these coal export proposals and their diesel pollution, coal dust, severe and added fire and safety risks, along with overall quality of life impacts from the added rail and barge traffic.

“However, with three coal export proposals looming and a lot of unanswered questions still out there, this is not the time to quiet down,” said McBride.

“We need to make sure that the overlapping and combined effects of these three projects on the Columbia River Gorge are fully analyzed through an area-wide environmental impact statement,” she said.

Dan Spatz, a member of The Dalles City Council said, “It has been amazing to see the groundswell of concern and opposition to coal export throughout the region from my city of The Dalles to the city of Scappoose – which passed a resolution asking for further study on Monday evening — and dozens of other communities through Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.

“Earlier this year, Senator Wyden and Representatives DeFazio and Blumenauer submitted requests to the Corps of Engineers to do a full environmental impact statement on the coal terminal proposed by Ambre Energy at the Port of Morrow and Port Westward,” continued Spatz.

“Companies like Kinder Morgan and Ambre are getting the message that you cannot turn the Columbia River Gorge into the nation’s coal chute without a fight,” he said.

Last year, PGE declined to lease property at the Port of St. Helens to Kinder Morgan over concerns about coal dust impacting their natural gas facility.

“If PGE, which currently owns the coal fired power plant at Boardman, does not want to be neighbors with a coal export terminal, the Columbia River certainly should not be,” said Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Mosier City Council member. “It is a relief to know that this proposal will not be dragging 30 million tons of dirty coal through Gorge communities each year.

“With other coal export proposals still actively being considered by regulators, this begs the questions: what would the impacts be of doubling train and barge traffic? What would the effects be of increasing coal dust pollution and diesel emissions within the National Scenic Area and its communities?” concluded Fitzpatrick.

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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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