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Sierra Club of Oregon files appeal

The Sierra Club of Oregon wants to let the public know about the potential dangers of a project that might be coming to Port of Coos Bay, but the club does not want to pay the hefty price that comes with doing so. To remedy this, the club recently filed a civil appeal with the Coos County District Attorney's Office over the matter.

This latest litigation is a part of a quest the Sierra Club has embarked on to get Port of Coos Bay to release information on plans to potentially export coal from Coos Bay. The club wants to educate local residents on how this could potentially contaminate the water and pose a threat to health.

The Sierra Club asked for this information under the Oregon Public Records act and asked the Port of Coos Bay to release 2,500 pages of information. A spokesperson for Port of Coos Bay said the Port was willing to be open about these future plans, but releasing 2,500 pages of information would cost around $20,000. Things like legal fees, payment for staff and copying costs figured into this price tag. This is also a tab that Port of Coos Bay is expecting the Sierra Club to pick up in order to release the information.

The Sierra Club refused to pay this money but still wants the Port of Coos Bay to release the information. The club's members have turned to the court with their appeal seeking help.

A member of the Sierra Club argued that these types of fees could be waived under state law if the information serves public interest. The Port of Coos contended that since the Sierra Club wants the information released, it should pay for it, not burden the taxpayers with the cost.

The spokesperson for the Port of Coos Bay also said there are currently no plans in place to export coal from the bay.

Source: KCBY.com, "Sierra Club appeals to D.A. over Port fees," Tim Novotny, Feb. 16, 2012

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