The Eugene City Council Monday night voiced opposition to a tentative plan to ship trainloads of coal through the city. The Wyoming coal would be exported to Asia through the Port of Coos Bay.
The non-binding resolution covers many community concerns, such as potential health problem and the decline in property values along rail routes. In addition, it says exporting coal to Asia is inconsistent with Eugene’s own city goals of carbon neutrality. Councilor Betty Taylor acknowledged that the resolution would not actually stop the shipments, but cited the symbolic importance of the vote.
“We can’t stop it, but we can certainly express an opinion. Whatever we can do to stop this, we should do. I thought we should vote on this the first time it came up,” Taylor said. “Definitely we should add our voice to those people who are standing up for the environment, the health of people and common sense.”
The resolution also calls on city officials to study whether there are legal avenues available to block the shipments. Councilor Mike Clark argued the city has no power over the matter.
“For me we’re wasting a lot of our city resources on something that doesn’t actually protect us – doesn’t actually do anything. Not to mention the fact and in one part it says we’re going to support the Governor’s desire to study it, even though we’re already going to ban it, no matter what the outcome of the study is. It’s rather like ‘ready, fire, aim’ for me.”
The resolution passed 5-3, triggering a round of applause from the audience, many of whom had been lobbying the Council for months to fight the coal shipments.