Land use exception legislation moves forward despite community opposition

COOS BAY, Ore. – After hundreds of testimonies opposed, Oregon legislators approved HB 3382 B.  It now sits on Gov. Kotek’s desk for approval.

This bill “allows local government to adopt land use exception under certain conditions for applications for deep draft navigation channel improvements in Oregon International Port of Coos Bay.”

With this new bill, the Coos Bay port would be expanded to accommodate large shipping container boats, significantly deepening and widening the channel.

Conservation organizations across the state have spoken against this bill…saying it will have a negative impact on the environment.

Dr. Christine Moffitt, a retired fisheries biologist, said the Port of Coos Bay sits within the largest estuary in the state.

“People understand kind of the general ecology of lakes and streams but they don’t necessarily understand how an estuary works,” Dr. Moffitt said.

The Oregon International Port of Coos Bay’s Margaret Barber said they are doing what they can to account for environmental impact of the project.

“We really are trying to balance how to do things in the most environmentally responsible way,” said Barber.

Phillip Johnson with the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition says this would devastate the ecology of the area.

“Your just reaming out the entire lower coos bay estuary,” Johnson said. “Destroying habitat for salmon and Dungeness Crab which is what the current fishing port at Charleston goes after.”

Barber says the efficiency of the port will help reduce carbon emissions over land.

“Traffic on the land side is going to be almost 100% by rail,” Barber explained. “Rail movements are about 75% more efficient in terms of emissions.”

Dr. Moffitt says estuaries, however, are one of the most effective ways to store carbon dioxide.

“When they’re compared to sequestering carbon on land they are sometimes ten or more times more effective,” said Dr. Moffitt.

“There’s no way to mitigate for that kind of damage,” Johnson said.

Johnson says even if Gov. Kotek passes the bill, organizations will continue to oppose the port expansion at the county and city level.

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Taylar Ansures is a producer and reporter for NBC5 News. Taylar is from Redding, California and went to California State University, Chico. After graduating, she joined KRCR News Channel 7 in Redding as a morning producer. She moved to Southern Oregon in 2022 to be closer to family and became KTVL News 10’s digital producer. Taylar is currently finishing her Master's Degree in Professional Creative Writing through the University of Denver. In her free time, Taylar frequents independent bookstores and explores hiking trails across Southern Oregon and Northern California.
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