PORTLAND – The Portland City Council took an official stand on the coal export controversy Wednesday, passing a resolution opposing coal being transported through the city, until extensive studies can prove it safe.
There are proposals to build five coal export terminals in the Northwest, and plans to transport coal by rail and barge from Montana and Wyoming to those terminals, for shipment to Asia.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz wrote the resolution, which points out health, safety and environmental concerns commonly raised over coal.
Those supporting the resolution far outnumbered opponents at the hearing Wednesday, and spoke before the vote.
"I grew up in rural southern Oregon and have lived in Portland for more than a decade and I am here to say, this is not coal country. And we don’t want it to become so,” said Bethany Cotton, representing Power Past Coal, an alliance opposing the coal export plan.
But there were opponents of the resolution, telling the council the coal export could be run safely, and would be a huge economic benefit.
“If we don’t build the shipping terminals here in Oregon the jobs the tax benefits and the demand for coal energy won’t disappear, it will just go somewhere else,” said Greg Peden, representing the Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports.
Portland joined 25 other cities, counties or ports raising concerns over the coal exporting proposals. The Army Corps of Engineers is currently considering what types of impact studies of the projects should be done.