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To the editor:

(Edited for length.)

In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, I was fortunate enough to work as environmental engineer for the Oregon DEQ. It was a time when the DEQ better understood its mission to protect the public.

The agency moved forward with creativity and vision in promulgating regulations to protect both public health and the environment. The DEQ created regulations to protect: kids lungs from wood stove emissions, the Columbia River from oil spills and the enormous heating load of a nuclear plant, and the public from carcinogenic volatile organic compounds.

Presently, with respect to the movement of massive quantities of coal through Oregon, DEQ limits its effort to writing minor permits to control storm water and site dust at the Port of Morrow in an egregious give-away to a foreign multi-national, Ambre Energy. Serious questions remain unanswered:

1.Why is the company allowed to claim an impossible to achieve closed loop system, while coal is already emitting and difficult to contain from trains, and other points of transfer?

  1. Why is only visual monitoring by the company personnel required for air and water emissions at the site with no remote electronic sampling equipment?

  2. Why is there no barge fire protection plan specified to control fires on barges?

  3. Why is there no spill clean-up equipment specified?

  4. Where will waste material be disposed of?

  5. Why isn’t the company required to post a surety bond for facility closure to protect the state from enormous potential clean-up costs that would incur if the company bankrupts or walks away?

  6. Why hasn’t there been a computer modeling analysis of the enormous harmful effects of coal burning in Asia on the Oregon air and watersheds?

  7. What are the economic and human health costs of coal emissions from Asia on Oregonians?

  8. Why are the impacts of global climate change completely ignored?

  9. Doesn’t the DEQ understand the historic long-term global human health and environmental impacts of coal burning?

  10. Has the DEQ morphed from an agency of creative scientists to one of blindfolded bureaucrats? This is an agency that was oblivious to the impacts of the Boardman coal-fired plant until they got help from an air quality study done by university research scientists.

Where have you gone DEQ? Let us hope Governor Kitzhaber remains a true steward of Oregon’s environment as he considers the devastating proposals of multi-national lobbyists.

Dave Berger



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