Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thank You Columbia Riverkeeper!

Amazing Letter From Columbia RiverKeeper website

Alejandro de la Torre says:
The Board of Commissioners should follow the example set by their own Planning Commission, who recommended denial of the rezoning application.  The Planning Commission decided that protecting farmland was too important to allow the expansion of the Port’s industrial plans. Rezoning farmland for industrial development will increase rail and road traffic. The Port’s application doesn’t hide the ball: it wants to double the size of Port Westward to take advantage of rail access. The Port has provided no detailed plans to deal with transportation impacts to Columbia County, particularly from unit train and truck traffic, which would serve the expanded Port Westward site. The proposal paves the way for dirty coal export projects. Here are the facts: In January 2012 the Port signed a lease option agreement with Kinder Morgan, promising to find a location for a coal export terminal. Ironically, Portland General Electric, owner of Oregon’s only coal-fired power plant, rejected the first proposed location because coal dust could harm PGE’s natural gas plant at Port Westward.  The Port wants to rezone a large section of agricultural land with river access for industrial use.  This paves the way for mega coal and oil projects. The Port’s rezoning application states explicitly that potential future uses include coal export and “petroleum based products.” Coal dust contains toxic pollution, including arsenic, mercury, and lead. For farmers, landowners, and communities along the rail line, coal dust and diesel emissions are more than a nuisance – they’re a public health issue. The County should protect high quality farmland. Many people live in Columbia County because they value living in a rural area and support local farms. The Port’s proposal would eliminate over 600 acres of productive farmland. While the Port likes to talk about “jobs,” this rezone is not about more jobs: the Port’s own application acknowledges the type of development it wants to attract is not labor intensive. The majority of the existing Port Westward site is open for development—use it first. Why pave over productive farmland when the majority of the existing Port Westward site is empty? 
*Tracy here-I would add that in the very near future food will be a priority and once this rich farmland is concreted in and polluted there is no going back to making it rich farmland again. It took nature hundreds of thousands of years to wash these rich sediments on these dike lands and thousands of years of decay of plant matter to create these prime soils!

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