An environmental group has appealed to Coos County District Attorney R. Paul Frasier to waive about $20,000 in fees for records from the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay.
Citing the state's Public Records Act, the Sierra Club wants the DA to waive the fee, which is for 2,500 pages of information about proposed coal and liquefied natural gas development plans.
'The people of Oregon have a right to know the truth about a project that could contaminate waterways, endanger the local economy and threaten public health by opening Coos Bay to dirty fossil fuel exports," Laura Stevens, the Sierra Club's organizing representative in Oregon, said in a news release.
Under state law, public records fees may be waived if the public interest is being served, the group said.
But the port said a fee waiver for the Sierra Club's request is not appropriate.
'They sent us a very broad request that sought thousands of pages of documents, some protected under confidentiality agreements," said Elise Hamner, the port's communications manager.
In order to fulfill the record's request, port staff had to search out the documents, review them, then send them to a lawyer to ensure nothing confidential was being released.
'There is a legal process to go through that costs money," Hamner said. 'They want the taxpayers to pay. We don't think the taxpayers should pay."
The Sierra Club said the records request is necessary, as the port has not been transparent in planning the coal export projects.
The port rejects that assertion.
'We've been discussing this information for months in public meetings," Hamner said. She cited one proposed coal export project, code named Project Mainstay, about which the port has publicly discussed such pertinent issues as the acres involved in the facility and potential coal export tonnage.
'We've been pretty above board on facts that the public needs to know," she said.
Reporter Jessie Higgins can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 240, or firstname.lastname@example.org.