Yesterday, Seattle made national news by joining a growing list of cities and elected officials around the region in speaking out against a proposal to vastly expand coal exports to China and India.
From the New York Times, “Washington: Seattle Votes Against Coal Terminals,”
The Seattle City Council has unanimously passed a resolution opposing development of coal-export terminals in Washington over concerns about increased train traffic and potential harm to health and the environment. The vote Tuesday came as the federal government is reviewing the first of at least six port facilities proposed in Washington and Oregon to ship coal from Montana and Wyoming to Asia. If all of them were built, trains could carry at least 100 million tons of coal a year through the Northwest. Councilmember Mike O’Brien says mining and burning more coal is not consistent with the city’s goal to fight climate change. Opponents say the resolution is premature and that the council should let an environmental review be completed.
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.
The expansion is of coal exports could also affect local health and traffic. The trains going through Seattle to the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point in Bellingham, WA would likely increase coal train traffic in Seattle from the current average of one train per day to nine trains.
For people who live near the rail line, we need to be concerned with increased exposure to harmful coal dust from the tops of uncovered coal trains.
For the port and freight communities in Sodo, an increase in coal train traffic through Seattle could also adversely impact traffic and freight mobility.
I believe the increase in coal train traffic through Seattle is bad for our climate, bad for our people and bad for our economy.
For more information on the dangers of coal export expansion, check out the Power Past Coal campaign website at www.powerpastcoal.org where you can learn more about the proposals, the impacts on the Northwest and how you can get involved.