Metro urges Feds to study coal impacts

coal railcars

Metro councilors have voted unanimously for a resolution urging more federal study on the impact of coal export terminals.

Metro councilors on Thursday called on the federal government to conduct more intensive studies into the impact that potential coal export facilities could have on the Portland region.

More than 20 people testified at the meeting, with most speaking in favor of Metro's resolution, which was sponsored by councilor Rex Burkholder.

Union Pacific spokesperson Brock Nelson, however, urged Metro to reject the measure, saying that rail transport is the safest way to transport coal.

The issue of constructing terminals at Columbia River Gorge ports to export coal has generated a heated debate. Opponents are concerned about environmental impact, with supporters touting the economic boost, including job creation, that port communities would receive.

In one of the latest developments, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Portland division on Tuesday said it will only conduct an environmental assessment of Ambre Energy's Morrow Pacific coal export terminal proposed near Boardman, rather than a more exhaustive environmental impact statement.

That decision could expedite construction of that project by years.


Ongoing coverage of the NW coal export debate >>

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