March 29, 2012 in Region

Port goes to court in records request

Coal trains plan sparks environmental interest

COOS BAY, Ore. – Officials at the port in Coos Bay say they will go to court to overturn the district attorney’s decision that environmental groups cannot be charged thousands of dollars to fulfill a public records request.

The Sierra Club sought about 2,500 pages of documents about the port’s work on a plan to bring coal from the Northern Plains to the coast in mile-long trains. The port hasn’t said whom it’s negotiating with, nor has it released many details about the proposal.

The port said it would cost $16,000 for lawyers to review the documents to determine which were protected under confidentiality agreements, The World newspaper in Coos Bay reported.

But Coos County District Attorney R. Paul Frasier said the port would have to absorb the cost of determining whether the records are exempt.

“We have not made any secrets as to what the project is about, and this is just a broad request,” Martin Callery, the port’s chief commercial officer, told The World. “It will cost us $16,000 in legal fees, and we think they should pay for it.”

Coos Waterkeeper founder David Petrie said Oregonians “have the right to know what multinational corporations are behind a project to exploit our environment, damage our health, reduce home values, and threaten commercial fishing and oyster farming.”

The port told that group it would cost $22,000 to hire a lawyer to determine whether the records could be withheld under Oregon public records law, the Eugene Register-Guard reported.

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