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First big Oregon hearings for coal projects slated

One of the three proposed Northwest coal export projects will be formally considered at two marathon public hearings in July, and Oregon state authorities are making plans to allow testimony from up to 720 people.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has issued draft air quality, stormwater and water quality permits for Ambre Energy’s proposed coal export facility at the Port of Morrow near Boardman. Ambre proposes to bring the coal from Wyoming and Montana on rail cars to the port, then transfer it to barges for the trip through the Columbia River Gorge.

DEQ will hold public hearings in Portland and Hermiston on Tuesday, July 9, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. — extremely long sessions that illustrate the depth of public interest in the project.

The Portland hearing takes place in Rooms C120 and C125 at the Oregon Convention Center, 777 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The Hermiston hearing will take place at Blue Mountain Community College, Room 134.

People hoping to testify are advised to sign up in advance at http://oregon.gov/DEQ/Pages/CoalExport.aspx. Speaking spots will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

People also may observe the proceedings live on the DEQ website.

The public also may submit written comments through July 12.