Morrow Pacific: environmentally responsible

Mary Abrams, director of Oregon DSL, stated in an interview with Rob Davis of Oregon Live “I have a real alliance with the people in rural Oregon. I’m very proud to come from a very small town in Morrow County. I also believe — and I think people who live and work in rural Oregon — have their own environmental consciousness. They believe there are ways to make economic development and good environmental choices at the same time. That’s what I always look for …”

Well, Ms. Abrams, look no further; the Morrow Pacific Project is just what you are looking for: economic development in rural Oregon that desperately needs family-wage jobs and unequaled environmental protection.

As the project manager for Ambre Energy’s Morrow Pacific Project I am tasked with making the Morrow Pacific Project the most environmentally sound project using the very best of available technology. In my 35 years of experience I have not seen a project so environmentally focused.

The project from its inception was designed to be environmentally sensitive. “No coal dust” has been the mantra; thus enclosed storage barns and conveyors. No rail traffic in the Columbia River Gorge or metropolitan areas; hence barging from Boardman to Clatskanie in specifically designed and constructed enclosed barges.

All of which will cost Ambre millions of dollars extra. And that is Ambre’s money; no federal, state or local money is being requested.

The Morrow Pacific Project will be an economic boon for Morrow and Columbia counties, paying $4 million in state and local taxes, port fees and voluntarily establishing and funding annual $800,000 in education trusts in both counties.

We have purposely worked with and focused our attention on Oregon suppliers, contractors and labor at projected additional expense. The project has been fully scrutinized by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers continues to scrutinize the project. Consultation has been done with the National Marine Fisheries Service, The project has spent nearly $1 million in performing cultural resource studies and has been approved by the State Historic Preservation Office.

Initially ODEQ said an air permit was not required. Six months later they changed their mind. Initially the USACE and ODEQ said a 401 Certification was not required. Two years later ODEQ requested a 401 Certification.

The Morrow Pacific Project has complied with all regulatory statutes and provided everything we have been asked to provide. We have endured an unprecedented three public hearings and an extended public comment period. We have patiently waited for a fair and objective evaluation and have had the rules changed numerous times. Is it any wonder that rural Oregon lacks family-wage jobs?

Ms. Abrams, yes, you can have rural Oregon economic development and environmental responsibility when the Morrow Pacific Project is built.

Al Knapp is project manager for Morrow Pacific Project.

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