Governor Inslee stands with public on coal exports
Inspired and encouraged, was my reaction to Washington Governor Inslee along with Governor Kitzhaber of Oregon, asking the White House Council on Environmental Quality to consider the global climate and air quality impact that results from leasing coal from federal lands and exporting it.
They also inquire whether coal lease rates are too low and helping to subsidize coal exports.
Pollutants like ozone, mercury and carbon dioxide from coal burned in Asia return to the U.S. in the air currents 5 to 12 days later, less time than it takes to ship coal to China.
Every aspect of coal usage from mining, transporting, burning to waste, is damaging to human health.
The Army Corp of Engineers is the agency responsible for conducting an area-wide study of the impacts for all of the coal export proposals but no announcement of the study has been made and concern is growing among residents who worry the agency has eschewed its obligation.
Coal dust pollution is an example of why a study specifying the consequences to our health, safety, economy and climate is essential, if we are potentially increasing coal train traffic nearly ten-fold through our communities.
The proposed terminal at Cherry Point, near Bellingham, is the export site but to get there coal needs to travel in uncovered railroad cars into Spokane, down the Columbia River and up Puget Sound.
Burlington Northern SantaFe Railway studies show each open top rail car loses an average of 500 pounds of coal dust per trip.
Current coal trains are composed of approximately 120 rail cars and longer trains are planned for the future should new export terminals be built.
Coal mined in the Powder River Basin located in Wyoming and Montana breaks apart easily and contains mercury, arsenic, uranium and other heavy metal toxins harmful to fish and human health.
Given the serious impact to all our lives of these coal export proposals, our elected governors in Washington and Oregon are asking the critical questions.