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In brief: Groups ask for bigger port analysis

Thu., May 23, 2013

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Environmental groups and a public health organization want the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider the big picture – from mining in Wyoming to air pollution in China – before allowing development of three Northwest ports to ship up to 100 million metric tons of coal a year to Asia.

The groups filed a formal petition Wednesday asking the corps to consider all three ports together – two in Washington and one in Oregon – as well as the environmental and health effects of more coal mining, massive coal trains and greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are deeply concerned that each of these projects will go through environmental review without an opportunity to consider the bigger picture of what it means for the region if all or some of the proposed terminals are built and operated, particularly in communities distant from the terminals themselves,” the petition said.

Corps of Engineers spokesman Scott Clemans said they are currently looking at the ports individually, and considering the local impacts, such as building docks, dredging and changes to wetlands.

He said they would have to decide the current analyses are inadequate to do something broader.

The corps is looking at proposals to develop facilities along the Columbia River at Longview, Wash., and the Port of Morrow, Ore., and at Cherry Point near Bellingham. The two Washington ports are being analyzed with an environmental impact statement. The Oregon port is being looked at with a less demanding environmental analysis.

Supporters of developing the ports said the current process is fine.

“We believe that the environmental impact study the Corps is now doing is the way to go,” said Lauri Hennessey, spokeswoman for the Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports. The governors of Oregon and Washington have called on the White House to require a full examination of the coal exports’ effect on global air quality.

Powell won’t be released today

OLYMPIA – The Washington Corrections Department says the father-in-law of missing Utah mother Susan Powell won’t be released from prison today. He’s been serving time for recording images of two neighbor girls in their bathroom.

Corrections spokesman Chad Lewis said May 23 was the earliest possible date on which Steve Powell could be released, based on sentence reductions he earned in prison. Powell was sentenced in June 2012 to 2 1/2 years.

To get out early, inmates must submit an acceptable release plan. Lewis said the state is still reviewing Powell’s proposed plan. If it’s approved, the state still requires 35 days to allow staff to notify victims and local law enforcement.

Police in Utah said this week they were closing the active part of the Susan Powell investigation. She disappeared from her home in 2009. Her husband, Josh, was a focus of the investigation until he killed himself and the couple’s two children last year in an explosive house fire in Washington.

Man gets 3 years for guns in airport

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A federal judge sentenced a Montana man to three years in prison on Wednesday for attempting to board a flight in Sacramento with four loaded guns.

Harold E. Waller, 46, of Circle, Mont., was arrested in March 2012 as he attempted to pass through security screening while openly carrying a loaded 9 mm handgun in a shoulder holster. Screeners also found guns and ammunition in his three carry-on bags.

Federal guidelines called for a sentence of no more than six months, meaning Waller could have been freed immediately after sentencing because he already has spent more than a year in custody.

But U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller issued the stiffer sentence, saying Waller downplayed his actions and characterized them as a mistake.

His attorney, Katherine Lothrop of Sacramento, said she had hoped the judge would order that her client be treated in a half-way house. She hopes he will be evaluated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and serve his time in a mental health treatment facility.

The judge’s decision followed a daylong hearing Tuesday on Waller’s psychological condition.

He pleaded guilty to attempting to board an aircraft with a concealed weapon.

Man in handcuffs arrested by police

CENTRALIA, Wash. – A man was arrested at the Centralia Police Station after showing up in handcuffs.

The 21-year-old walked to the station Saturday and asked for help taking them off. He said a friend bought them at a second-hand store, put the cuffs on him as a joke and threw the key on the lawn.

The Chronicle reports police checked the records and found an outstanding arrest warrant.


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