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Anti-Coal Protesters Take Message To Top Oregon Officials

SALEM, Ore. – Environmental groups are mobilizing against proposals to export coal through Northwest terminals. Protesters rallied outside a land use meeting in Salem Monday. They're asking Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber to block permits for several coal terminals.

There are about a half-dozen proposals to bring coal mined in Wyoming and elsewhere to Northwest ports to be shipped to Asia. Some of the coal would be brought through the Columbia River gorge by train or barge.

Andy Harris with the group Physicians for Social Responsibility speaks at a rally against coal export terminals outside a meeting of the Oregon State Land Board in Salem. Photo by Chris Lehman.
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Andy Harris with the group Physicians for Social Responsibility speaks at a rally against coal export terminals outside a meeting of the Oregon State Land Board in Salem. Photo by Chris Lehman.

Critics say the coal-laden trains would spew dust and block traffic. And environmental groups oppose the use of coal as an energy source regardless of where and how it's shipped.

"It's just craziness," says Andy Harris, He is with the group Physicians for Social Responsibility.

"We have no business moving backwards to export coal when we should be moving forward to export sustainable, clean energy sources," he says.

The protesters delivered about 7,000 signatures to Governor Kitzhaber, who spoke briefly with them after the meeting. The governor has said any coal terminals should "have to obey all state and federal laws to protect public health and the environment.”

On the Web:

“Desperate” To Export: A Coal Industry Close-Up: http://ecotrope.opb.org/2012/04/desperate-to-export-a-coal-industry-close-up/

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.