Monday, October 15, 2012

Report on the Coal Hard Truth forum

Coal-Fired-Power-Plant_Smoke-Stack-Emissions__15414 (Photo credit: Public Domain Photos)
Here at LOVESalem we don't print news releases in disguise like most commercial media outlets.  We just print 'em and let you read 'em if they are about things important to living our values environmentally speaking . . . and this one is the most local and global issue there is.

You should grill each and every candidate who seeks your vote this year, especially the legislative ones.  Ask them what they will specifically and publicly commit to doing to stop coal, the enemy of the human race, from helping to destroy local livability even as it helps destroy the planet's ability to preserve a habitable climate.
October 11, 2012

Contact Information:

Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign, Salem
Lucy Sedgwick, Campaign Coordinator

Salem Residents Mobilize to
Fight Coal Trains at the
Coal Hard Truth Forum

Salem, Oregon – Over one hundred Salem residents of all ages packed the Paulus Lecture Hall at Willamette University College of Law on Wednesday night to learn about the threat to their health and their community’s livability from coal exports to Asia.

Journalist Peter Frick-Wright, representing the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, began with an overview of plans to ship up to 10 million tons of coal a year from an export terminal in Coos Bay. This would require 28 mile and a half long trains to pass through the center of Salem every week with uncovered loads of coal bound for Coos Bay. Frick-Wright, who has been covering this story since 2010 for Sierra magazine, explained how coal companies in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana face a shrinking market in the U.S. and want Oregon and Washington to be their “funnel” to the lucrative Asia market.

Next Dr. Martin Donohoe from the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility explained in detail the health hazards from coal dust, diesel exhaust, and the air pollution that travels back across the ocean when coal is burned in Asia. He asked for a show of hands of people with asthma problems and stated that coal dust is a major trigger for those suffering from asthma. He described how toxins from coal affect infants in the womb and in early childhood. Coal dust blowing off trains will settle on gardens and in yards along the track. Emergency responders will face delays at track crossings as coal trains take as much as ten minutes to pass.

Dr. Joe Bowersox who chairs the Department of Environmental and Earth Sciences at Willamette University described how coal exports to Asia will accelerate climate change. Oregon is already seeing the affects of climate change which eventually could subject our forests to catastrophic fires and wipe out coastal communities due to rising sea levels.

Finally, Reverend Rick Davis from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Salem reminded the audience of Edmund Burke’s saying, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” He said if Salem does not raise its voice in opposition, as other communities have already done, and coal exports do come to Oregon, our grandchildren will wonder how we allowed such a terrible thing to happen to Salem.

After the expert presentations, Salem Beyond Coal Campaign Coordinator Lucy Sedgwick presented some ways that the audience could take action in the short term by communicating with elected officials and supporting the call for a region-wide Environmental Impact Statement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. She also handed out forms for participants to comment to the State Land Board on the plan to ship coal down the Columbia River from Boardman. She displayed 1,000 petitions that had been gathered from Salem residents in just the past few weeks opposing coal shipments through Salem.

The meeting ended with a lengthy question and answer period where audience members expressed their frustration with Salem city officials who have been slow to engage with this issue.  The City of Portland has already gone on record in opposition to coal trains and the Eugene City Council recently held a work session and is slated to take action before the end of the month.

CCTV filmed the Coal Hard Truth Forum and plans to broadcast it sometime in November.

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