Coal terminals eliminate NW jobs
The “jobs” argument the coal industries have been using to justify the degradation of our iconic Puget Sound, and the natural beauty of our small towns, like Edmonds, Burlington and Skagit County is propaganda to achieve citizen support for the six new coal terminals proposed for the NW.
The Pacific Gateway Coal Terminal at Cherry Point will employ a few thousand jobs to build this terminal over a few years, and a few hundred to maintain and operate; but the overall effect will be a reduction in NW jobs and a loss of revenue to cities along the rail corridor from the Columbia River, Puget Sound and Cherry Point north of Bellingham.
Here are statements taken from letters written by business and legislative representatives in Washington State:
Port of Skagit Commissioners Kevin Ware, Jerry Kaufman and Bill Shuler in a letter to Gov. Gregoire, Sept. 13, 2011:
“Let there be no doubt, the Gateway proposal as currently proposed will have a very significant negative impact on our local economy.”
And “Even the most cursory review of the Gateway proposal shows that the additional trains required to supply the new terminal with coal will further obstruct traffic and have a negative impact on economic development in our community leading to a net loss of jobs.”
Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy’s letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, Dept. of Ecology and the Whatcom County Council:
“The congestion the trains will cause at the Port of Tacoma will have a severe negative impact on the Port's ability to attract new business to the port facilities and the surrounding industrial area, and make our years of effort and investments ineffective. Further, the problem of air quality nonattainment due to PM 2.5 is already becoming an issue when we are competing for new businesses.”
And Pat McCarthy’s comment on home values: “Many of the homes along these rail lines will likely suffer a decline in value if this project moves forward. In these tough times when many property owners are already underwater, this is one more potential negative for the local housing market.”
Mr. McCarty also comments on the negative impact: air-quality, human health, recreation, transportation and water quality.
Linda Fergusson, President/CEO, Burlington Chamber of Commerce in a letter to Washington State legislators, Nov. 21, 2011:
“Burlington has a well-maintained downtown adjacent to the rail line with new businesses being added on a regular basis. The unique characteristics of Burlington make it essential that federal and state officials conduct a detailed review of significant economic, cultural, health, safety, aesthetic, and quality of life impacts from adding up to 28.8 miles of coal trains daily through Burlington.” And “While the applicant’s public relations campaign promises to add hundreds of jobs at the terminal, it is silent about the net loss of jobs along the train route, so the potential loss of jobs and revenues in Burlington and Skagit County deserves the utmost consideration.”
Dow Constantine, King County Executive, in a letter to Ted Sturdevant, Director, Washington State Dept. of Ecology, Jan. 26, 2012:
“Key industries like aerospace and international trade rely on the rail corridor to move parts and finished products. Increased use of this corridor by long-haul coal trains could conflict with future rail-dependent economic development, like the plans for 737 MAX production… Traffic delays will have direct economic impacts that also need to be considered in communities along the rail corridor.”
All of these comments point to the overall loss of jobs in the NW if the permits to construct these six coal terminals are allowed. Clearly, the coal company should not sway us with TV and radio adds touting jobs as a result of the coal terminals; it simply is not true.
Further, the degradation of our beautiful Puget Sound and the health issues for our children and citizens should be enough reason to kill these projects. Washington State added over 50,000 jobs in the last year; is another temporary few thousand worth the fouling of our pristine NW environment?
Those who argue that U.S. coal will go to Canada anyway, with Canada instead of the U.S. getting the revenue, promote another untruth; the Canadian coal terminals are booked with Canadian coal and will not be able to take additional coal from the U.S.
If they could, then coal companies would be shipping more today. Join us to stop the madness of shipping American coal to communist China, making Montana coal barons rich at the expense of the NW, and a loss of jobs over the long term.
Are we so short-sighted as to cave into a few jobs over the short term for reduced jobs long term, and permanent degradation of our environment?
Join our monthly meetings at Frances Anderson Center the first Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. Current discussions: plans for getting community concerns into the environmental impact studies to be completed later this year prior to decisions by Army Corps of Engineers, Whatcom County and the Dept. of Ecology on coal terminal building permits.