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Letter to the Editor: Not elusive

— Not elusive

To the editor:

The recent editorial “Elusive answers” (Sept. 29) dances around the coal export issues and states that the Power Past Coal Coalition “knows what it doesn’t want, but it hasn’t offered any truly viable solutions on a large scale.” As a member of the coalition, here are our solutions:

Solution 1: Energy comes in many forms. There are few things in life so valuable that it is worth poisoning ourselves over. Coal is toxic and the sooner we get off coal, the sooner other energy sources and conservation measures fill the gap. The Northwest is almost over its coal addiction and the rest of the country is following our lead.

Curbing greenhouse gas emissions will ensure a safer world for our children and future generations. If we export coal overseas, its toxins come right back as documented by the mercury found in the Cascade Mountains that can be positively identified with China’s coal-fired power plants.

Solution 2: Take the long view. In recent years, Wasco and Hood River counties have had some of the lowest unemployment rates in the state.

Credit goes to agencies like the Mid-Columbia Economic Development District, supporting clusters of opportunities in agriculture and viniculture, tourism, arts and technology. Endless coal trains and barges not only don’t fit, they degrade the advantages communities have worked so hard to create. No wonder The Dalles, Hood River and Mosier have weighed in opposition to coal exports.

Solution 3: Beware green coal. Barging coal is green window dressing and nothing more. Ambre Energy has two coal export proposals: one would use covered barges for 20% of its transport through the U.S. and the other much larger proposal would transport coal entirely in uncovered rail cars. Combined, the two Ambre proposals are using uncovered rail cars for 97% of its coal transportation through the Northwest.

Solution 4: Honor past agreements. Northwest Tribes, including the Yakama Nation and the Warm Springs Tribes, oppose coal export proposals because they would violate tribal treaty fishing rights by destroying fishing sites and denying tribal members the right to fish ”at all other usual and accustomed stations.” This alone is grounds for the Corps of Engineers to deny these proposals.

The coal export proposals are trying to grab the tail of a dinosaur energy source that is headed for extinction. It is time to let coal go.

Kevin Gorman, Executive Director

Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Portland

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