USA: Coalition Attempting to Stop Coos Bay LNG Dredging
A coalition of local residents, grassroots environmental and clean-energy groups today filed an appeal of the Oregon Department of State Lands’ decision to issue a dredging permit for the Port of Coos Bay that would allow the Port to export coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG).
While the “multi-purpose” dredging permit was initially sought to develop an LNG import terminal, the Port of Coos Bay recently entered into a confidential agreement with an undisclosed coal export company seeking to export coal overseas annually, and LNG backers have changed their plans to export domestic gas instead.
“The people of Coos Bay, not international mining corporations, should decide the future of this community,” said Jan Hasselman, an Earthjustice attorney handling the appeal. “The port should stop conducting this business behind closed doors and start leveling with the public. Shoveling American rocks onto China-bound boats is not an economic development strategy.”
Coalition members appealed the dredging permit in part due to concerns about the harmful impacts on Coos Bay waterways that serve as salmon and oyster habitat that in turn support commercial and recreational fisheries. The permit authorizes the single largest dredging project in an estuary the state has ever approved, and would facilitate massive LNG and coal tanker ships and heavy ship traffic that could interfere with recreational boating and fishing in the region.
Oregonians are concerned about potential economic and public health consequences of allowing coal and liquefied natural gas exports at the Port of Coos Bay. Mile-long, open-top coal trains could pass through communities in the Portland area, Eugene, the Columbia Gorge and along the coast, exposing families to toxic coal dust and increasing the risk of respiratory illness. The proposed Pacific Connector LNG pipeline would run across 234 miles of the state, elevating the risk for gas spills, pipeline explosions, and other accidents. Exporting LNG could also result in significant increases in energy prices for Oregon families and businesses.
Local residents, community leaders and environmental groups are also alarmed by the lack of transparency from the State and Port of Coos Bay regarding potential coal exports. Public records requests filed by concerned parties have been met by unclear answers from the Port.
In June 2011, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber commented on the concerns with development fossil fuel export terminals, saying that coal export development in Oregon “should not happen in the dead of night. We must have an open, vigorous public debate before any projects move forward.”
LNG World News Staff, January 19, 2012; Image: Port of Coos Bay