Power Past Coal Rally, Portland, OR 5-7-12
The Power Past Coal Rally began at noon on a bright, sunny, spring day with a chant from various members of the Riverkeeper Alliance: “Clean Coal is a Dirty Lie!”
Power Past Coal Rally At Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square 5-7-12
Columbia Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, Climate Solutions and Greenpeace sponsored the Power Past Coal event with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Environmental Attorney and Chairman of the Waterkeeper Alliance, as the featured speaker. Kennedy, who has been working against coal for more than 30 years, has been dubbed “Hero of the Planet” by Time Magazine.
Facing the slowing of U.S. coal fired power plants, coal companies like Massey and Arch Coal are looking to harvest and ship 150 million tons of coal per year, sending 30 -50 trains per day through the Columbia River Gorge via Portland and Vancouver Neighborhoods, where it is intended to be shipped to China. Each car from a coal train can unleash 500 pounds of coal dust. The coal trains proposed to run through Portland and Vancouver will be 75 miles long each day making the Pacific Northwest the largest coal chute in the nation, originating in Montana’s Powder Ridge Basin.
Toxins emanating from the transport and burning of coal include mercury, arsenic, lead, sulphur dioxide, and ozone among 50 known contaminants. Health impacts, especially for young children, include mental retardation, impacts to speech and gait, lung and liver damage, autism and blindness. Estimates show that 300,000 to 600,000 children are exposed to high levels of mercury each year stemming from the coal industry. Coal emissions also exacerbate asthma, emphysema, can cause cancer, and contaminate rivers and fish, and can also reduce rainfall and snow pack caused by climate change. Just last week, Portland General Electric opposed the placement of a coal terminal near its power plant because dirty coal would hamper plant operations, and Oregon’s Governor Kitzhaber requested a regional Environmental Impact Study to identify public health and environmental impacts expected from seven proposed coal terminals in Oregon and Washington State. [Read More...]