The coal wars continue in the mayor's race.

Former City Commissioner Charlie Hales responded today to a pledge by opponent Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-Portland) to seek a city resolution banning coal exports.

Hales' statement implies that Smith is scoring cheap political points with an empty gesture. Hales says the city should instead pressure the Oregon congressional delegation to slow a prospective coal terminal on the Oregon coast.

"It's easy to be against coal," Hales says. "I sure am. ...Obviously, we shouldn't enable transport through our community—not through North Portland, not anywhere."

"But I think we have to go further than a 'city resolution' or 'agreeing we need a state health study,'" Hales continues. "The federal government governs our railroads. They have the ultimate power to make this happen or not."

Hales then ups the environmental ante on Smith, asking him to join in pushing City Hall to slow its deal for a shipping terminal on West Hayden Island.

"North Portland is getting run over around the future of Hayden Island as well," Hales says in the statement. "I hope my opponent for Mayor will join me in pressing our City Council to slow down and comprehensively study the situation so that a solution can be developed that all parties can live with—even the wildlife for whom we are also supposed to defend."

Hales joins Smith, City Commissioner-elect Steve Novick and Congressman Peter DeFazio in taking sides on a coal ban.

UPDATE, 6:45 pm: Smith's campaign manager Henry Kraemer weighs in.

On more than one occasion—including as recently just this morning on the radio—Jefferson talked about getting our Congressional delegation the tools they need to stop coal transports (it's also one of the reasons he'd direct the City Attorney to explore all our options). Plus, resolutions do push on the Congressional delegation—add momentum to activist pressure, generate press, send a clear message, etc—it's a lot of the reason to do them. Did you catch if Charlie would vote yes on such a resolution?