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Protecting the Columbia River

Sep 30, 2012

Paul Lumley

Paul Lumley
CRITFC Executive Director

The Columbia River treaty tribes support energy and economic development in the Columbia Basin Salmon. We do not support, however, energy and economic development in the Columbia River Basin that comes on the backs of salmon or at the expense of tribal fishers and the health of their communities.

Tribal communities have come together to stop the proposed coal teminals along the Columbia River for three primary reasons:

1) We would see increased coal in our communities. Coal dust would significantly increase in our tribal fishing communities and pose a health risk to them. The increased barge and train traffic along the river would pose another safety risk to our fishing community. In fact, I was nearly overcome by a barge at night on the Columbia River.

2) Once coal is exported, the risks to our region do not disappear. The coal burned in Asia will ultimately come back to haunt us, riding the jet stream and eventually falling back on us in the form of mercury and acid rain falling into our sensistive watersheds.

3) One by-product of coal burning is airborne mercury, which will find its way our fish and our bodies. Our communities would see an increase in mercury in the basin’s fish populations. Tribal members eat 10 times more fish than the general public and as a result would be exposed to significantly more mercury.

Everyone wants to see more jobs in our communities but these new jobs should not come at the expense of the health of others.

Working together we have made significant progress in the State of Oregon to increase water quality standards. Oregon now has the strictest water quality standard in the nation, a decision based on tribal fish consumption rates. Let’s not take a hasty step back.

I encourage you to contact your tribal and state elected officials and let your thoughts be heard on this significant issue.