Portland, OR. – Tribal leaders from the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission are applauding the Oregon Department of State Lands’s decision to reject Ambre Energy’s permit application for its proposed Morrow Pacific coal export project along the Columbia River. The decision was made partly on evidence of federally protected treaty fishing activities that occur in that stretch of the river and the negative impact the proposed project would have on those activities. This decision is a significant setback to Ambre Energy’s proposal.
“Today’s landmark decision reflects what is in the best interest of the region, not a company’s pocketbook,” said Carlos Smith, chairman of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and a member of the Warm Springs Tribal Council. “This decision is one that we can all celebrate. It reaffirms the tribal treaty right to fish and is in the best interest of the Columbia Basin’s salmon populations and our communities. It is a reflection of what is best for those who would be forced to live with the consequences of Ambre’s proposal, not what is best for those who would profit from it. This is the beginning of the end for this toxic threat – the tribes will stand with the State to protect its sound decision.”
The tribal treaty fishing right guarantees tribal members the right to fish “at all usual and accustomed fishing areas.” These rights were secured in treaties signed with the United States government in 1855. The treaties of 1855 have been recognized as the supreme law of the land and the tribal treaty fishing right upheld by the United States Supreme Court on multiple occasions.
The proposed Morrow Pacific coal terminal has been opposed by tribal leaders, local communities, and members of the general public since it was proposed. The tribes maintain that the proposed terminal would interfere with tribal fishing activities in the area.