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Oregon Denies Permit to Coal Exporter, Greens Cite Impact on Salmon

Because, salmon > advancement of human civilization.

Walter Hudson


September 1, 2014 - 6:13 am

A state department in Oregon has denied a crucial permit to coal export company Ambre Energy. The permit would have enabled construction of a new barge dock to meet anticipated demand in Asia.

Environmental activists opposed to the project are doing their happy dance, once again celebrating the obstruction of industrial progress and – by extension – the furtherance of human life. Fox News reports:

Brett Vandenhuevel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, a river watchdog group that fought against the Ambre dock permit, said the project’s impact on air and water quality cannot be minimized, and that is why “the opposition was unprecedented,” with thousands of people attending the rancorous public hearings.

Concerns ranged from dirty coal spilling out of trains and onto the land and in the water, to the impact on the habitat and endangered species like native salmon. They warned of coal dust during transport, but also pollution and climate change, as a result of long-term fossil fuel burning.

“People really took a stand and said they don’t want to be a conduit for dirty coal,” said Vandenhuevel.

Of course, all that “dirty coal” translates to essential energy for the furtherance of human civilization. That might not mean much to a hand-wringing environmentalist in the Pacific Northwest. But it means a hell of a lot to developing nations in other parts of the world who strive to achieve a quality of life comparable to the West.

Therein lies the supreme irony of the environmental movement. While its activists tend to identify with the political Left, and thus pay lip service to wealth inequality and the plight of the poor, they also stand obstinately against development which provides direct opportunity for individuals the world over to advance.

But hey, salmon. Gotta save the salmon.

There’s also a disturbing air of pre-crime to Vandenhuevel’s comments which speak to the illegitimacy of so many governmental regulations. Coal might spill out of trains, so we should punish Ambre ahead of time by denying them the right to use their own property. If Ambre’s practices resulted in a true tort against an actual party, the matter could be resolved in court, where such matters belong.

(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 12:07 minutes long; 11.69 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the board of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, and as president of the Minority Liberty Alliance. He hosts a daily podcast entitled Fightin Words, proudly hosted on Twin Cities Newstalk Podcast Network. Walter is a city council member in Albertville, MN. Follow his work via Twitter and Facebook.

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All Comments   (5)
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As a nuclear engineer, I'm increasingly looking to Asia and the Middle East for work. Blocking US coal exports, or at least increasing their transportation costs, will work to increase my business prospects. So I ought to be glad.

However, this is bogus. I was near Pasco, WA last winter when this was a hot topic as Pasco is a major rail junction and the coal traffic would come through Pasco then down the Columbia River. Discussions of remedial measures were ignored or dismissed.

If the Left/Enviros can block this perfectly reasonable economic activity, what ELSE can they block? The answer is just about anything and that is VERY dangerous.

By the way, the route through Pasco from the Wyoming coal fields to the port of Portland is the best route with minimal elevation changes and grades compared to using Seattle or Vancouver. Also, this coal is low sulfur and would help to reduce air pollution in Beijing or Hanoi.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Probably not practical, but would that Ambre were able to pick up stakes and leave the state lock, stock, and barrel, taking significant numbers of well-paying jobs that families can live on with them!
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
If the trains can be run to Canada, and shipped from Canadian ports, do it. If the company sells to any customers in Oregon, stop doing so. The Left coast really is not part of American any more, so why worry about their economy.

Subotai Bahadur
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think the coal is being mined elsewhere; the company just wants to build a dock from which train cars can be unloaded into barges or bulk cargo vessels in Oregon. If built, it would provide some very well-paid jobs for longshoremen, etc.

I have to admit though; coal hauling and loading/unloading can be very dirty unless closely regulated. We built a coal loading facility at the Port of Seward, the tidewater terminus of the Alaska Railroad. The coal came by train from the Usabelli mines just south of Fairbanks and left a trail of coal dust along the way. Then there was little control at the storage and loading facility in Seward, so before long Seward was covered in coal dust and there was a hue and cry. They've now taken some steps to minimize the dust both along the RR right of way and in the port and it seems better but is still an issue.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
With respect, Art (you're one of my all-time favorite contributors to this site), sometimes when you need to put bread on the table for your loved ones, coal dust is gold dust. Best, MBL
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
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