North Coast lawmakers have vowed to block a secretive plan to restore an abandoned stretch of defunct North Coast railroad to export coal overseas from Montana, Utah and Wyoming through the Port of Humboldt Bay.

State Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) called the proposed plan “one of the largest environmental threats” the North Coast has seen in decades.

North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) said there are several ways to halt the proposed project. “One of them is NCRA itself because the NCRA is faced with losing its right of way to a coal train,” he said. “I believe it would have the option of withdrawing the abandonment request and keeping (the rail line) in public ownership to at least have more time to work on a strategy.”

Huffman also urged community members to express opposition to the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District. Reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, district executive director Larry Oetker said the possibility of a coal train is “not something that we are interested in.”

“We are focused on developing Humboldt Bay for an offshore wind terminal and that’s really all we’re working on,” he said. “… The port is not looking to bring coal into the harbor. 

We have been exclusively focused on are finding things to ship out of the bay that the community thinks is a good fit for our region. We are looking to be a clean, green port.”

When asked if the harbor district has participated in conversations with NCRCo. Oetker said, “No, I have not met with anybody looking to bring coal to the port.”

McGuire vowed to bring new legislation forward “to stop Big Coal in its tracks.”

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