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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Port guy: No coal through Hayden Island

We've been noting with amusement how the Port of Portland and the City of Portland are doing a major song and dance to hide the fact that they've already decided to pave over a good chunk of wildlife habitat on the west end of Hayden Island for some sort of shipping terminal. We've been speculating that it would be a coal terminal to ship Montana and Wyoming coal to China.

Today we get a firm-sounding pair of e-mails from one of the Port's public relations people, Josh Thomas, swearing that whatever kind of facility goes in there, it won't be a coal terminal:

Good morning Mr. Bogdanski,

I represent the Port of Portland, and I am writing to clarify that we do not currently export coal and will have no plans to do so in the future. Yesterday’s post titled “To kill a bald eagle” suggests otherwise. There may be some confusion over what a consultant listed as potential future growth commodities in a recent report, but that analysis does not translate to local involvement with those cargo types. There is a proposed project in Longview, Washington, and active facilities at Canadian ports, but a coal terminal is off the table for existing and future Port of Portland facilities.

Best regards,
Josh Thomas
Media Relations Manager, Marine and Industrial Development
Port of Portland

To which I replied:

By "off the table," is that a specific promise by the Port of Portland that it will not site a coal terminal on Hayden Island? If not, you'll pardon my skepticism.
Thomas wrote back:
Yes, "off the table" means just that -- the Port will not site a coal terminal there.
It's nice to know that we're not trading bald eagles for acid rain. Exactly what we are trading them for, however -- other than fat construction contracts for the Port's West Hills buddies -- is still not clear.

Comments (9)

And he knows that "the Port of Portland" won't have the final say on whether or not that happens. In other words--if it does happen, the Port of Portland doesn't have to be on record as doing the "siting". He knows this, or should.

Meanwhile, coal *is* being seriously discussed, and the pressure is on:


From that link:

In September 2010 Peabody Energy announced that "Coal's best days are ahead." Peabody stated that exports of coal from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming will be central to its expansion goals. The Oregonian in September 2010 reported that Northwest ports, and in particular ports in Portland, Oregon, may be used in the future to export coal to Asia. The Port of Portland said it doesn't have the space for coal exports in the short-term, but its consultants cited coal as a potential long-term market if it adds terminals on West Hayden Island.

In early November 2010 Australia-based Ambre Energy asked Cowlitz County officials in southern Washington State, which borders Oregon, to approve a port redevelopment that would allow for the export of 5 million tons of coal annually. On November 23 Cowlitz County officials approved the permit for the port redevelopment, which is to be located at the private Chinook Ventures port in Longview, Washington. Coal terminals also are proposed at two other sites along the Columbia River.

Environmentalists stated that they would oppose any such actions, arguing that coal contributes to pollution and global warming.

In November 2010 Powder River Basin coal producer Cloud Peak Energy CEO Colin Marshall stated that a coal port on the West Coast was "absolutely more than a pipedream."

Other Powder River Basin producers, including top US coal miner Peabody Energy, have talked about the potential for a new export facility on the West Coast, with Oregon being mentioned as the top location of choice.

Let us know when development of West Hayden Island is permanently off the Port's table. In the interim, let's put election of the Port board members on the table. Oh, and vote with your dollars by sending our membership contributions to Portland Audubon.

Is that email legally binding, Jack?

What's the enforcement mechanism if we later learn that they intended to ship coal from that facility from Day One?

How about after the PR guy is fired?

Or, for the real longhairs --

You can just imagine an eagle flying to this soundtrack.

What's to stop Vancouver from grabbing at the business opportunity?

Besides, isn't PoP already a major port for Canpotex, exporting Canadian potash for use in fertilizer manufacture around the world?

I'm not sure which is worse, but I do know that a PC appearance is everything here in P-town.

Besides, isn't PoP already a major port for Canpotex, exporting Canadian potash for use in fertilizer manufacture around the world?

Correct. Potash is mined in Canada and exported through Portland. And, potash is caustic and somewhat dangerous, and not good for the enviroment at all. Canada is the world's #1 producer of it, and the US is one ofthe top consumers of it.

But hey--the PoP "representative" never said the Port wouldn't export *other* nasty mining products, did he?

And let's be crystal clear: the *only* reason you're not likely to see coal exports coming through Portland in the short term is that there's simply not enough space. The Port of Portland isn't worried about it's environmental effect, just its bulkiness. Anything else you hear is message management.

They will need a dock on the north side of Hayden island----one elevated enough it is not prone to seasonal flooding. Why not scoop out some artificial ponds, for wetlands, on the south shore of the island, flood them with river water that can be controlled via culvert, and then use the fill to build the dock and access road?

Do Portland's greenies and industrialists always have to be at odds? Oh, I forgot, we're called "Little Beirut" for a reason.

Do Portland's greenies and industrialists always have to be at odds?

Are they at odds? Seems like there is a lot of silence about goings on about town from many environmental groups, perhaps not on this issue, but other critical matters. I have been told that is because of where their funding comes from??....perhaps who is sitting on board of directors or as a non-profit cannot take position?? We cannot depend on the many silent environmental groups. Good for the Audubon Society who is standing up for West Hayden Island.

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