Environmental groups protesting Columbia coal export plan

SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- Environmental groups are stepping up pressure on Gov. John Kitzhaber over a proposed coal-export facility on the Columbia River.

The groups want Kitzhaber to push the Department of State Lands to reject permit applications for the Morrow Pacific project.

Ambre Energy of Brisbane, Australia wants to transport coal from Wyoming and Montana through Oregon to power-hungry Asian markets. Trains would bring coal to Boardman, where it would be loaded on barges, transported down the Columbia River and transferred to oceangoing vessels in St. Helens.

The Sierra Club this week launched radio ads and billboards highlighting health concerns, and several hundred activists recently rallied in Portland.

Kitzhaber, Secretary of State Kate Brown and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler make up the three-member board overseeing the State Lands Department.