Oregon Approves Subsidy For Oil Transport, Not Coal

Repost from Northwest Public Radio

Oregon Approves Subsidy For Oil Transport, Not Coal

By Tony Schick, August 22, 2014

The Oregon Transportation Commission voted Friday to deny funding for controversial coal exports but approved subsidies that will allow more oil trains to travel along the Columbia River.

The Oregon Transportation Commission Friday voted to deny funding for controversial coal exports but approved subsidies that will allow more oil trains to travel along the Columbia River. Credit McD22 / Flickr
The subsidies were part of a $42 million package of transportation grants using money from the state’s lottery. Only one project was denied: $2 million for the Port of St. Helens to expand a dock for exporting coal.

The coal would have come by train from Wyoming to eastern Oregon, and from there it would have been barged down the Columbia. That project was denied a crucial permit this week, but the transportation commission did approve $5 million for projects that benefit oil by rail.

Regna Merritt of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility said she hoped concerns about oil train explosions would have swayed the commission.

“The health and safety issues were taken quite seriously by dozens of elected officials, and we wish that their concerns had been taken more seriously by the commission,” Merritt said.

One grant gives $3 million for improvements on a rail line through Rainier, making it safer and allowing for more oil trains. An additional $2 million will help expand a dock where the oil from North Dakota is transferred onto ships bound for West Coast refineries.

The port said the expansions have long-term benefits beyond shipping fossil fuels.

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