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Coal Export Threatens the Northwest

Oregon PSR is working to prevent the promotion or facilitation of any coal export infrastructure or related transportation in our region. As a group of health care professionals, providers and public health advocates, we understand the significant risks to human health posed by these massive proposed coal shipments across our state and through our communities. We circulated a number of letters to Oregon and Washington decision makers and federal agencies as part of our campaign.

Find out more, and add your voice on this critically important issue today!

Watch this fascinating three-minute video highlighting plans to export dirty U.S. coal to Asia. Local voices from Longview, Bellingham, Hood River, and Portland share how coal trains and terminals will harm their communities.

Proposed Millennium Coal Export Facility

View a 2016 video, which opens with Oregon PSR's own Dr. Andy Harris, in support of efforts to protect Longview and our climate from the negative impacts of coal exports.

View all comments on the draft EIS produced by Cowlitz County and Washington Department of Ecology.

Coal's Assault on Human Health

Coal-fired power plants are the leading global warming culprit in the U.S., accounting for more than 30% of our nation's carbon dioxide emissions. They also are one of the nation's largest sources of air pollutants that damage cardiovascular and respiratory health and threaten healthy child development. Particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury, and more than 50 other air toxics are among the dangerous mix of pollutants spewed from the smokestacks of coal plants. Despite this poor environmental record, energy companies have proposed building more than 100 new coal-fired power plants across the country. 

Coal proponents say that new technologies can turn coal into a clean, low carbon energy source. Yet many of the new coal plants under consideration would rely on outdated, dirty energy technologies of the past. Virtually none of the new coal plant proposals include plans to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from day one of operation. If built, these coal plants, with a lifespan in excess of 50 years, would gravely diminish the prospects of slowing global warming, while exacerbating air pollution-related disease and death.

In addition to massive CO2 emissions, coal combustion produces a slew of harmful air pollutants. Every year, particulate matter pollution spewed by coal-fired power plants triggers hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks and causes tens of thousands of hospitalizations, heart attacks and early deaths. Coal plant emissions of nitrogen oxide also contribute to the formation of ground level ozone, or smog, which itself is associated with asthma attacks, new onset asthma, heart attacks and angina pain. Coal-fired power plants are also the single largest source of mercury emissions in the U.S. Pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of mercury, exposure to which occurs primarily from consuming contaminated fish. As many as 600,000 children are born each year with dangerous levels of mercury in their bodies, putting them at heightened risk for developmental disabilities. This is particularly concerning given the increasing incidence of autism and other neurological problems among U.S. children.

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