Calling for Full, Transparent Environmental Review of the Port of Morrow Proposal, Consultations and Regional Review of all Six NW Coal Export Proposals

Download PDF


Resolution #SAC-12-012

TITLE: Calling for Full, Transparent Environmental Review of the Port of Morrow Proposal, Consultations, and Regional Review of all Six NW Coal Export Proposals

WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and

WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and

WHEREAS, since time immemorial, our economy, culture, religion and way of life have centered around our fishing, hunting and gathering resources, and the lands and waters on which they depend, and we have been, and remain, careful and conscientious stewards over them to ensure their continued health and well-being; and

WHEREAS, the Northwest tribes are sovereign and our people depend on the natural resources of this region; and

WHEREAS, the Northwest tribes have an obligation to protect our First Foods and our most precious resource, water; and

WHEREAS, there are sweeping proposals for Powder River Basin coal to be shipped by rail and/or barge to West Coast ports: Cherry Point, Washington; Longview, Washington; Grays Harbor, Washington; Port of Morrow, Oregon; St. Helens, Oregon; and Coos Bay, Oregon; and

WHEREAS, the coal will then be shipped through our waters to Asia where it will then be burned in coal-fired power plants, emitting mercury and other toxins that return through the atmosphere to our homes; and

WHEREAS, the estimated coal export volumes from the proposed West Coast ports are unprecedented at over 150 million tons per year; and

 


WHEREAS, Northwest tribes have strong concerns about the impact of these proposals on tribal rights and resources, including but not limited to the following:

• Intrusions into traditional fishing, hunting and gathering sites;
• Destruction of our cultural and religious areas;
• Degradation of human health, related to fugitive coal dust and mercury poisoning;
• Interference with tribal business enterprises and opportunities, causing a loss of jobs, preventing jobs growth, and reducing tribal income, related to increased coal-train traffic;
• Declining water quality and loss of salmon and lamprey habitat from barging and shipping operations;
• Increases in emergency response times, interference with school functions, and fiscal impacts on other public services due to delays at train crossings;
• Filling of shorelines, wetlands, and streams, during expansion or reconstruction of rail lines along the Columbia River, the Salish Sea, and their tributaries;
• Climate change, sea level rise, and ocean acidification from coal-fired power plants; and
• Overall degradation of our natural resources and culture; and

WHEREAS, Northwest tribes require transparency and ongoing consultation to ensure that the permitting and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) for all of the proposed coal ports are consistent, in light of the fact that all of our waterways are connected to one another; and

WHEREAS, the Northwest tribes hereby declare that a mere Environmental Assessment for the Port of Morrow facility, instead of an EIS, is completely unacceptable, based on a number of deficiencies, including but not limited to the lack of Government-to-Government consultation required with all affected tribes in the region.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the NCAI hereby calls upon the White House Council on Environmental Quality to require immediate preparation of a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement for the Port of Morrow proposed coal export facility; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NCAI hereby calls upon the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a comprehensive EIS at the USACE Northwestern Division level, on the cumulative effects of all six currently proposed coal export proposals, and any future proposals, together, including analysis of the cumulative impacts of the proposals throughout the entire region and internationally, including their direct and indirect impacts on tribal cultural resources, treaty rights and interests (see attached letter); and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NCAI hereby concludes that a separate EIS is also necessary for each of the coal export facilities individually; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NCAI hereby insists that the White House Council on Environmental Quality mandate all federal and state agencies to commence immediate Government-to-Government consultations with all tribes in the region, as our First Foods and resources, treaty rights and human health are directly impacted by the coal industry in the Northwest; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.


CERTIFICATION

The foregoing resolution was adopted by the General Assembly at the 2012 Annual Session of the National Congress of American Indians, held at the Sacramento Convention Center from October 21-26, 2012 in Sacramento, California, with a quorum present.

President

ATTEST:
Recording Secretary