Kitzhaber Comes Out Against Coal Exports

May 2, 2014

By Governor John Kitzhaber

[Editor Note: Governor Kitzhaber spoke on coal export issues (see below) at a recent Oregon League of Conservation Voters' dinner. Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility urges everyone to call the governor's Citizens' Representative Office immediately at 503-378-4582 to thank the governor for his bold stance against dirty, dangerous coal exports through our region and to send a message supporting him and the Department of State Lands in a permit denial by the end of May for Ambre Energy's proposed coal export facility in Oregon.]

For Oregon and the world, climate change is an environmental and economic imperative. It is the greatest challenge to our legacy and the greatest threat to our future. It is also an opportunity — an opportunity for our state to build on its competitive advantages by building a low-carbon economy that can be the envy of the world. Toward that end my administration is taking a number of steps.

First, it is time to once and for all to say NO to coal exports from the Pacific Northwest. It is time to say YES to national and state energy policies that will transform our economy and our communities into a future that can sustain the next generation.

Just over a year ago, Washington Governor Jay Inslee and I asked the federal government for a comprehensive review of all of the coal export proposals pending in the Pacific Northwest — including the Ambre Energy proposal in Boardman, Oregon. We have repeatedly called for an open process to consider how we use publicly-owned coal resources and the health impacts of coal use and transport.

To date the federal government has refused to look at the full impacts of the coal export proposals and we have seen no sign of the emergence of a thoughtful and comprehensive energy policy for our nation. In the absence of such a policy, it is too easy to decide by not deciding, locking ourselves into a coal-dependent future for our west coast ports and for Asia. That is not a course I am willing to pursue…

The Australian corporation proposing a coal export terminal in Boardman has repeatedly failed to provide requested information about its proposal. More recently, several Columbia River tribes have provided documentation that the proposed facility would destroy at least three Native American fishing sites protected by treaty. This information, along with prior submittals, also shows that increased barge traffic would interfere with fishing and other public uses of the Columbia River.

Ambre Energy has been given two years to show that its proposal will meet Oregon’s regulatory standards and to date has been unable to demonstrate its ability to do so. The time has come to call the question and I expect the Oregon Department of State Lands to make its final decision by no later than May 31st, 2014.

The future for Oregon and the West Coast does not lie in nineteenth century energy sources. The 21st century will mark the transition to clean energy sources, and the regions that lead this transition will be the places where our families will find the jobs of the future. I intend that this will be one such region.Φ

Governor Kitzhaber’s agenda during his third term has been focused on transforming Oregon’s system of health care, creating a public education system that prepares Oregonians for the jobs and economy of the 21st century, and strengthening Oregon’s economy in every corner of the state. His work is motivated by his commitment to equity and opportunity for all, secure jobs with upward income mobility, and safe, secure communities where people have a sense of common purpose and commitment to one another.

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