This article The US Coal Industry Wants to Boost Exports to Asia – Native American Tribes Stand in the Way from Earth Island Institute provides a thorough overview of the Northwest coal export situation particularly addressing the concerns of Native American tribes. Two Northwest tribal organizations have taken positions detailed, in part, as follows:
In September, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, an organization of more than 50 Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest, including the Lummi, passed a resolution demanding a “comprehensive” environmental impact statement on the cumulative effects of all five coal export proposals, “including their direct and indirect impacts on tribal cultural resources, treaty rights, and interests,” instead of piecemeal, project-by-project statements.
“The tribes’ chief concerns include the impact of coal dust along the rail routes and on crucial fishing areas that they have used for centuries. “Along the Columbia River it’s cliff, highway, railroad, then river. Our communities are wedged between the railroad and the river. We’ve got nowhere to escape,” Paul Lumley, executive director of the Portland-based Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, said in a statement. “If we cannot escape, neither will the coal.”
Tribal opposition could well prove to be the strongest roadblock to the coal-export terminals since it’s backed by historic treaties that protect their fishing rights and sacred sites.
See full article for more details about the issue and its history.