Dozens of Indian Tribes from around the Northwest came together Thursday to call for a full environmental analysis of proposals to export coal from up to five ports in Oregon and Washington.
The 57 tribes hammered out their position At a convention hosted by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indians
Prominent tribal leaders voiced concerns about the health, safety and environmental impacts of exporting coal from Montana and Wyoming through the Northwest.
If any of the proposed export terminals are built, the coal would travel by rail and ship through Washington, Idaho and Oregon.
The Northwest tribes have joined environmental groups in calling for a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement of each of the terminals. That would take a broader look at the effects of increased rail traffic through tribal lands and communities all along the route of the coal trains, instead of just reviewing each terminal on an individual basis.
The Army Corps of Engineers is in charge of the review process for each terminal and has already decided not to do a programmatic EIS on one coal project proposed for the Columbia River.
It has also begun the standard environmental review process for the largest export terminal which could be built near Bellingham, Washington. So far, that project is also proceeding without a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.
The tribes called for full transparency and government to government consultation throughout the review process for all the proposed export terminals. This is the first joint statement Northwestern tribes have made on the coal export issue.