Sierra Club
Sierra Club Press Release

July 18, 2012

Oregonians Thank Senator Jeff Merkley for Calling for Comprehensive Review of Proposals to Export Coal through the Northwest

Senator's Leadership Highlights the Need to Evaluate Costly, Dangerous Efforts to Send Wyoming Coal through Oregon to Asia

Salem- Today U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley sent a letter calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Land Management to conduct a comprehensive environmental impact statement for proposed facilities in Oregon and Washington related to transporting coal mined in Wyoming and Montana through Oregon for export to Asia. Read the Senator’s letter here.

"Today's rational request by Senator Merkley echoes growing concern among Oregonians and public officials like Oregon Governor Kitzhaber about plans to haul dirty coal by rail through Oregon, down the Columbia River by barge and then on to export to Asia," said Cesia Kearns with the Sierra Club in Oregon. "We thank Senator Merkley for standing up for Oregon communities and will expect the Army Corps of Engineers to take the breadth of the impacts seriously and conduct a comprehensive review of the coal exports proposals."

"Senator Merkley demonstrates his strong desire to protect the people of Oregon, along with our citizens and businesses, from dirty coal export," said Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director of Columbia Riverkeeper. "We cannot put our head in the sand and ignore the cumulative impacts of proposed massive coal infrastructure."

"We're heartened that Senator Merkley has demonstrated his concern for the health and safety of Oregonians through this request. From immediate delays of emergency vehicles to the long term impacts on climate, coal export proposals bring real and measurable threats to the health of our families and communities," said Regna Merrit of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Yet another public official is standing together with Governor Kitzhaber to call into question the real impacts of coal exports. Until the vast point to point impacts can be thoroughly evaluated and the many questions answered that are posed by coal exports by federal agencies, any permits for Oregon terminals should be denied or delayed until this can be completed. Senator Merkley joins the chorus of Northwest Senators expressing various concerns about the impacts of coal exports. He also sits on the Environment and Public Works committee, which has jurisdiction over the impact of industry on the environment and infrastructure.

"Coal companies should be on notice that they will not be allowed to railroad their dirty, dangerous proposed projects through the Pacific Northwest," said Bethany Cotton of Greenpeace.

The coal industry has proposed six separate coal export projects in Oregon and Washington, totaling over 146 million tons of coal per year. Oregon’s only coal plant, Boardman, is set to move off of coal by 2020.


Power Past Coal is an ever-growing alliance of health, environmental, clean-energy, faith and community groups working to stop coal export off the West Coast.



Cesia Kearns, Sierra Club, 503.757.7546, 

Dan Serres, Columbia Riverkeeper, 503.890.2441,

Bethany Cotton, Greenpeace, 503.327.4923,

Samantha Lockhart, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, 201.925.8300,

Kimberly Larson, Climate Solutions, 206.443.9570 x 36,

Regna Merritt, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, 971.235.7643