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 requests.
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 who 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 has taken a similar stand in a request submitted by the Eugene-based nonprofit Beyond Toxics, which wants records related to rail transport of coal.
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.
Besides protecting confidential information, port officials said they were also protecting a project that will help Coos Bay.
"The basic rationale is, No. 1, is this organization using our case as a fundraising effort to fight against our project?" port spokeswoman Elise Hamner said. "We're not doing our taxpayers or the residents of our port district a service by providing information at their expense to an organization that wants to kill a project that would benefit the community."
The port has also asked the environmentalists for information about their organizations, including personal financial information from members of their governing boards.
The port wanted to know if any board members "own or invest in, or have membership in, organizations that might compete against" coal-related industries, Hamner said.
Eugene lawyer Dave Bahr, who represents the Sierra Club, said the questions show an "intent to intimidate public records requesters with irrelevant and invasive questions that carry the potential to chill public access to nonexempt information."
this was in the seattle times:
found a repost at:
puget sound anarchists -