April 19, 2014 – Non-executive Summary– Governor Kitzhaber has proposed to propose a new and comprehensive statewide environmental law. This would be the first such act adopted by a state in over 40 years according to Columbia Riverkeeper.
After years of hedging, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber proclaimed emphatically that “It is time to once and for all to say NO to coal exports from the Pacific Northwest. It is time to say YES to national and state energy policies that will transform our economy and our communities into a future that can sustain the next generation”.
The Governor stated that he expects the Oregon Department of State Lands to reach its final decision on Ambre Energy’s proposed Boardman Coal Terminal by May 31, 2014.
At the same time, however, the Governor claims to lack the authority to do much about the darn coal terminals right now:
Unfortunately, Oregon law is more limited (than Washington state) in terms of what we can consider in reviewing large-scale projects such as the proposed Ambre coal export facility. I assure you, however, that we are carefully reviewing all of the issues under our authority, and that I will do all that I can within the context of existing Oregon law to ensure that we do not commit ourselves to a coal-dependent future.
Furthermore, I have asked my staff to develop proposals for the 2015 Oregon Legislature that, going forward, will assure that there is a comprehensive public review of the costs and benefits of significant development proposals like the coal export facilities now on the drawing boards…
“Oregon law is only limited if you interpret it narrowly,” quips Nicholas Caleb, an attorney, professor at Cascadia University and a recent City Council candidate.
The question remains whether new and comprehensive statewide environmental laws are necessary or whether the Governor could exercise significantly more authority within Oregon’s existing legal framework.
In any case, join Rising Tide and allies to give the Gov a push.
Full text of the address can be viewed here.