March 23rd, 2011 7:30 am | by NATHAN GILLES News | Posted In: Environment, Politics

Coal, Alberta Tar Sands and the Columbia River

Heard the expression "not in my backyard?" Try not on our back river, according to Columbia Riverkeeper and Portland Rising Tide.

The environmental watchdog groups will hold a teach-in tonight at 7 pm, Wednesday March 23, at the First Unitarian Church of Portland (1226 SW Salmon St.) to discuss how the Columbia River could soon become an important conduit for dirty energy via the transportation of machinery destined for the Alberta Tar Sands, and the shipping of coal through the Port of Longview, Wash.

The Tar Sands are in central Alberta and comprise an area roughly the size of Florida. The Tar Sands contain as much as 173 billion barrels of oil. Only unlike the oil that comes from countries like Saudi Arabia or Iraq, this oil is bound together with sand and water. And removing the oil is a dirty business.

CORRECTION (The following paragraph has been corrected since the original post per a comment noting our original error on the amounts of coal.)
Millennium Bulk Terminals, the company seeking to export coal out of Longview, Wash. initially claimed it wanted to ship five million tons of coal out the port. But recently released court documents show the company actually intends to ship as much as 60 million tons. Messages left with company officials weren't immediately returned.
The coal, mined in Montana and Wyoming and destined for Asia, could add coal particulate to the air and leach mercury into the river port less than 45 miles from the Portland metropolitan area, according to Columbia Riverkeeper conservation director Dan Serres.

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