Coal Exports to Asia Would Obstruct Pacific NW Treaty Rights, Tribes Say

First there is the overall environmental impact of mountain top removal of coal and burning it in Asia where it will damage the environment as much as if burned here. Then there is the health issue of coal dust along its travel route. Then the damage it would do to fish. And now it would break treaty rights agreements.

Mother Earth Journal, August 15, 2012
By Terri Hansen

Treaty fishing rights are meaningless if there are no healthy fish populations left to harvest, say Pacific Northwest tribes, fishers, and tribal environmental organizations.

Tribal fishers like Billy Frank, Jr. fought hard battles to uphold the tribes’ treaty right to fish. When the 1974 Boldt federal court decision established tribal co-management of Washington State fisheries and affirmed the affected tribes’ treaty rights to half the harvestable salmon, finally, their harvest increased.

But habitat degradation has since led to a decline of the salmon and diminished the treaty harvest to levels not seen before the Boldt decision.

Now, the coal industry is seeking to export millions of tons of Wyoming’s Powder River Basin coal to lucrative Asian markets through six proposed shipping terminals on Oregon and Washington waterways.

If the coal companies prevail, it will degrade salmon and cultural foods habitat, and…

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