Opposition to plans to build up to six coal export terminals in Oregon and Washington is mounting.

At a May 7 rally in Portland, Ore., Robert F. Kennedy, chief prosecuting attorney for Hudson Riverkeeper and president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, warned of the environmental, health and economic impacts from coal mining industry operations.

“Coal will poison the groundwater, the air, and it will distort the entire economic system here,” Kennedy told a group of more than 100 demonstrators.

Coal export terminals have been proposed in Boardman, Clatskanie, and Coos Bay, Oregon, as well as in Longview, Grays Harbor, and Bellingham, Washington.

Longview-based Millennium Bulk Terminals is proposing a $600-million coal terminal in Longview. In a written statement, CEO Ken Miller said the coal terminal would create 1,300 construction jobs in the first two years and 2,700 jobs in the area during the five- to six-year construction phase.

Australian-based Ambre Energy is proposing a coal-loading terminal at the Port Westward industrial park in Port of St. Helens (Clatskanie), and Houston-based Kinder Morgan is proposing a $150-million to $200-million terminal at the same location. However, the latter project was recently blocked by Portland General Electric (PGE), which operates two natural gas facilities on the same property. PGE, with veto power over the property, said coal dust from the proposed terminal could interfere with equipment at the plant.

In late April, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) requested that an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act be prepared to examine the potential energy, environmental, and public health impacts associated with the proposed coal exports.

The environmental groups staging the rally, which included the Waterkeeper Alliance, say that more than 15,000 comments in opposition to the plans have been filed to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in recent weeks.