Councilmember Mike O’Brien
Seattle City Council passes resolution opposing
transportation of coal through Seattle
Resolution cites negative health and environmental impacts
Seattle – Today the Seattle City Council unanimously passed Resolution 31379 stating Seattle’s opposition to the transportation of coal through Seattle. The resolution highlights the negative impacts on the climate as well as regional impacts on human health and rail and freight traffic from the significant increase in coal trains that would run through Seattle.
"Seattle has a commitment to fight climate change and become a carbon neutral city by 2050. Seattle could be the cleanest, greenest city in the world and we will be failing in our efforts to prevent climate change if we don’t speak out against efforts like this to ship tens of millions of tons of coal to China and India," said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, chair of the Energy and Environment Committee and prime sponsor of the resolution.
There are currently four coal exports under permit review in the Northwest that collectively could increase US coal exports by 150 million tons of coal annually. Coal transported to the proposed Gateway Terminal at Cherry Point in Bellingham, WA could increase coal train traffic in Seattle from the current average of one to nine coal trains daily.
"We have serious concerns about what a nine-fold increase in uncovered coal trains through Seattle would have on local health and traffic," said Councilmember O’Brien. "For people who live near the rail line, we are concerned about increased exposure to harmful coal dust from the tops of these uncovered coal trains. An increase in coal train traffic through Seattle could also adversely impact traffic and freight mobility. The resolution asks the railroads to work with the City to mitigate any negative health and traffic impacts."
With this resolution, the City of Seattle has become the seventh city in Washington to officially voice its concerns about the proposed expansion of coal exports, including Bainbridge Island, Camas, Edmonds, Marysville, Stevenson and Washougal.
Earlier this month, the City joined jurisdictions and elected officials throughout the region calling for a programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that would study the collective impacts of the four proposed terminals in the Northwest. The site-specific EIS is expected to begin on the proposed terminal at Cherry Point this summer.
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