Major coal companies have plans to create several coal-export terminals in Washington State. Up to five coal terminals are expected if they aren't stopped by Jan. 21. The coal will be coming on train from Montana and Wyoming and leading its way through Washington State with the main terminals being in Bellingham, Longview, St. Helens, Boardman, and Coos Bay, Oregon. Forty-eight million tons of coal is estimated to be transported daily. This has raised many questions from concerned Washingtonians about the impacts of this.
Washington State has made many steps to create cleaner, more environmentally conscious influences to create a better way of living for its citizens and future generations. In 2011, Washington came to an agreement to wean out its coal use by agreeing to shut down its only coal fired power plant by 2025. This decision was influenced by the need for more sustainable, clean energy.
With the new coal train proposal, Washington State might be taking a step backwards in a green, sustainable future. Many concerns have been raised by Washingtonians, including affects to local jobs and businesses, property values, human health and quality of life. Increasing marine traffic will affect marine ecosystems, which Washington has spent time and money on preservation such as at The Cherry Point aquatic reserve.
The proposed Cherry Point coal terminal will be located right next to one of Washington’s main aquatic reserves. In 2000 the Department of natural resources recognized the need to protect the resource of aquatic lands at Cherry point. This established a 90-year management plan for the area with goals to help preserve the health of the dwindling ecosystems. Other concerns are the dust that comes off the trains during transport (coal-dusting), congestion of the rail lines, and Washington taxpayers would be responsible for any repairs and upkeep on the rail lines. The supporters of the terminals claim it will provide more jobs, but it could also hinder jobs. Cienna Madrid reported in The Stranger that career fisherman Pete Knutson testified that:
"We have 15,000 fishery jobs in Puget Sound; now our marine livelihoods are at stake. A job is not necessarily a livelihood. We're weighing jobs based on the one-time exploitation of a fossil fuel versus livelihoods based on a sustainable resource. We have a moral obligation to reject this proposal."
This cannot be stressed enough: the deadline to address your concerns is Monday, Jan. 21. These coal companies must first get development permits from county councils, aquatic lease permits, and approval from the state Department of Ecology and federal Army Corps of Engineers. Voicing your concerns will help get a full study on the impacts on our environment: