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Proposed Coal Exports Threaten Oregon and the Northwest

Oregon's Department of State Lands is currently considering a proposal to move huge amounts of coal from Montana and Wyoming through the Columbia Gorge to Asia. As a group of health care providers and public health advocates, we understand the significant risks to human health posed by massive coal shipments on our rivers and through our communities.

We believe that, at the very least, Governor Kitzhaber must review both a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment and a full Environmental Impact Statement before allowing any Oregon agency to grant a permit for any such project. Help us by joining your colleagues in requesting the development of a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment.

If you are a physician, please read the Position Statement on Coal Exports from concerned Oregon physicians to Governor Kitzhaber to learn more about public health threats associated with proposed coal export through Oregon. Add your name to the statement.

If you are a (non-physician) health professional, public health advocate or if you work in the health community in Oregon, please read our letter to Governor KitzhaberAdd your name to this letter.

If you are a (non-physician) health professional, public health advocate or if you work in the health community in Washington State, please read our Washington Health Community Statement. Add your name to this statement.

If you have already signed on, thank you so much for lending your voice on this critically important issue. For more details, please contact Regna Merritt.

We are glad to learn that Governor Kitzhaber has called for a thorough review of coal export proposals and hope that he will continue to stand up for the health of Oregonians.

Latest News on Coal Exports

Sierra Club Sues for Review of DEQ's Coal Export Permit for Coyote Island (7/22/14)

Coalition of Community Health Clinics Oppose Coal Exports (7/18/14)

Columbia River Gorge Commission Resolution to Protect the Columbia River Gorge from Coal and Oil Transport (7/17/14)

Environmental Justice Task Force Letter to Governor Kitzhaber (3/31/14)

Power Past Coal Launches Ad Campaign Urging Governor Kitzhaber to Protect Health by Rejecting Coal Exports (3/25/14)

People's Hearing on Coal Exports at Pioneer Square (3/8/14)

Are Coal Trains Degrading the Air We Breath? The Answer is Yes. (3/3/14)

Oregon PSR Brings Together Oregon and Washington Physicians to Comment on the Proposed Millennium Bulk Terminal Project in Longview, WA (11/17/13)

Statement of the Yakama Nation Regarding Coal Export Issues (11/18/13)

Comments from The Mazamas on Proposed Millennium Bulk Terminal Project (11/18/13)

Comments from the City of Mosier on Proposed Millennium Bulk Terminal Project (11/13/13)

Comments from the City of Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy on Proposed Millennium Bulk Terminal Project (11/8/13)

Resolution to Oppose Coal Transport by the City Council of Beaverton (Beaverton City Council Resolution #4182, 6/18/13)

Resolution from the Portland City Council on Coal Exports and Health Impact Assessment (Portland City Council Resolution #36962, 10/4/12)

Resolution from the Portland City Council Opposing Coal Trains (Portland City Council Resolution #36959, 9/19/13)

Oregon PSR and Partners Petition Army Corps to Undertake Area-Wide Environmental Impact Statement on All Proposed Coal Export Terminals in Washington and Oregon (5/22/13)

Kinder Morgan Decision: A Victory for Public Health (5/8/2013)

Resolution from the City of Scappoose Regarding the Kinder-Morgan Coal Export Project for Port Westward (Scappoose City Council Resolution #13-03, 5/6/13)

Presbytery of the Cascades Expresses Concern Regarding Expansion of Coal Export (3/15/13)

Resolution to Oppose Coal Transport by the City Council of Eugene (Eugene City Council Resolution #5065, 10/24/12)

Resolution to Oppose Coal Transport by the City Council of Milwaukie (Milwaukie City Council Resolution #55-2012, 10/22/12)

Announcement from Multnomah County Chair and the Multnomah County Health Department Regarding Health Impacts of Coal Trains through Multnomah County (9/10/12)

Read more about Multnomah County studying the health risks of coal (9/10/12, Bonnie Stewart,OPB's EarthFix), and view video of Jeff Cogen's announcement.

Read about Portland City Council Commissioner Amanda Fritz's coal export resolution (9/11/12, Scott Learn, The Oregonian).

Read Toxic Coal Blues, an article about opposition to plans to ship coal through Portland (8/22/12, Mindy Cooper, The Portland Observer)

Download the press release for our July 19th, 2012 press conference

Read the April 26th, 2012 news release from our partners in the Power Past Coal Coalition.


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.

Health Effects Related to Coal Exports

Diesel particulate matter is associated with:

  • impaired pulmonary development in adolescents;
  • increased cardiopulmonary mortality and all-cause mortality;
  • measurable pulmonary inflammation;
  • increased severity and frequency of asthma attacks, ER visits, and hospital admissions in children;
  • increased rates of myocardial infarction (heart attack) in adults;
  • increased risk of cancer;
  • neurodevelopmental disorders.

Coal dust is associated with:

  • chronic bronchitis;
  • emphysema;
  • pulmonary fibrosis (pneumoconiosis);
  • environmental contamination through the leaching of toxic heavy metals.

Noise exposure causes:

  • cardiovascular disease, including increased blood pressure, arrhythmia;
  • stroke, and ischemic heart disease;
  • cognitive impairment in children;
  • sleep disturbance and resultant fatigue, hypertension, arrhythmia, and increased rate of accidents and injuries;
  • exacerbation of mental health disorders such as depression, stress and anxiety, and psychosis.

Frequent long trains at rail crossings will mean:

  • delayed emergency medical service response times;
  • increased accidents, traumatic injury and death.