RRCO’s Letter to Eugene City Counci RE: Coal Trains

Date: September 23, 2012

To: City Manager Jon Ruiz, Mayor Piercy and Members of the Eugene City Council
From: Executive Board of River Road Community Organization (RRCO)
Re: Recent Decisions of RRCO regarding proposed coal train passage through our neighborhood

City Manager Ruiz, Mayor Piercy and Councilors:

On September 10th 2012 at a regular meeting of RRCO attended by 38 individuals, we held an informational panel and discussion on coal trains and how their travel along the western boundary of our neighborhood could impact us. We heard presentations from Merlyn Hough, River Road resident and Lane Regional Air Protection Agency Director and Bob Ferris, Cascadia Wildlands, Executive Director. Although the Port of Coos Bay originally accepted our invitation to speak, they later declined.

After the presentations and discussion, our members passed the following motions:

Support Governor Kitzhaber’s request to federal agencies for more study on coal train issues. Passed 17 to 0 with 1 abstention

Support Resolution 5065 to the City Council to Oppose the Transport of Coal for Export through Eugene. Passed 14 to 0 with 1 abstention

Authorized the Board to draft a letter to the City Council along with our support of the resolutions we voted on, and authorized that the letter would summarize concerns [about coal trains] that were raised at September 10 meeting –
Environmental impact:
– The tight rail line curve under the Chambers Overpass creates a significant potential for derailment.
– Transporting coal, even for electricity generation in Asia, leads to increased carbon dioxide emissions that will amplify and worsen global climate change.
– The 115 stream crossings between Eugene and Coos Bay are vulnerable to pollution from diesel emissions, coal dust and potential derailments.
Lack of economic benefit:
– Research has shown that increased train traffic will reduce property values for neighbors living near rail lines.
– Conversely, we have heard of little economic benefit coming to Eugene.
Impacts on public health:
– There is concern that our neighbors will suffer from increased diesel emissions and coal dust particulates in our air.
– We anticipate an increase in railyard noise pollution in our neighborhood.
– American coal burned in Asia returns as increased mercury and other pollutant contamination in our soils and water.
Cost to taxpayers:
– There are doubts about whether American taxpayers are receiving fair market value for this coal mined from Federal lands.
Passed 17 to 0 with no abstentions.

Finally, Co-Chair Jon Belcher asked if anyone wished to move the alternative resolution to City Council proposed by the Port of Coos Bay, but no one made such a motion.

Due to the nearly unanimous views by our neighbors, we urge the City Council to pass the Proposed Resolution to Oppose Transport of Coal for Export through Eugene.

Co-Chairs, River Road Community Organization
Jon Belcher, 1243 Rome Ln
Carleen Reilly, 395 Marion Ln

River Road Community Organization Board members
Tuula Rebhahn, Kira Lehman, Ray Neff, Bev Barr, Will Dixon, Michael Lambros