Oregon Public Broadcasting

Hundreds of people gathered at Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square Monday to protest coal export projects in the Northwest.

The protesters carried signs and wore surgical masks with respiratory diseases written on them.

Many live near the Northwest ports or train routes where companies have proposed to move coal from Montana and Wyoming to Asia.

Coal export terminals are proposed in the Oregon ports of St. Helens, Boardman and Coos Bay and in Bellingham, Grays Harbor and Longview in Washington.

Environmental prosecutor and activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is the president of the national Waterkeeper Alliance. He gave the keynote speech to the crowd.

"Coal is crime, and I've been fighting the coal industry for 30 years. What I would say to you is do not let it come through this community," Kennedy said.

Local and regional leaders including Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen and Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission Chair Paul Lumley also spoke out against coal exports.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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