Oregon doesn't need coal

Tom Kelly is the president of Neil Kelly Inc.

Tom Kelly is the president of Neil Kelly Inc.

We can do better.

Shipping dirty coal from Oregon ports to markets in Asia is not a good strategy for our economy or our environment. As business leader, I put a premium on value. In this case, we need to value how a high quality of life and our reputation as a clean economy leader helps us grow and attract business in Oregon. At a time when our region is focused on growing our economy through exports of high-value manufactured goods, shipping a polluting raw commodity is a poor economic development strategy.

Coal export terminals in our region would have very significant impacts on our communities and economic prosperity. This is equally true for potential terminals being discussed in Oregon -- including sites at Coos Bay, St. Helens, and the Port of Morrow -- as it is for the massive terminals planned across the Columbia River in Longview and near Bellingham, Washington. The benefits from these facilities would be confined to a few companies and locations while the impacts will be felt across the state, region, and globe.

In addition to the many dangerous health and environmental impacts of turning our state into an epicenter for coal exports, the economic case alone should give us pause:

• Transporting coal would dramatically increase rail traffic – splitting many communities in two and limiting access to school, work, and play. The traffic would cause delays and congestion, impede emergency services, and reduce the ability of other shippers to use the rail lines for more valuable products.

• Miles of coal trains would place unsustainable demands on public spending for rail crossings, track expansion, and other infrastructure.

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