Big Coal has big plans for the Pacific Northwest

TransAlta coal plant { Centralia, WA }

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via PIMC. Feb 17, 2012:

Big Coal has big plans for the Pacific Northwest

Seeing a waning domestic market for their poisonous product, Big Coal has set its sights on the Asian market, with Washington and Oregon set to be the transfer and staging areas for this environmentally disastrous scheme. Environmentalists should do whatever must be done to thwart vast coal exports from being moved across Washington to the tune of (12) mile-long trains a day before being put on ships docked on the lower reaches of the scenic Columbia River for its trip to Asia. Coal export from Washington and Oregon, two of the cleanest states in the nation, should never be permitted.

Each loaded coal car would lose up to 500 pounds of coal dust across Washington

Washington and Oregon have only one operating coal-fired power plant each and those plants are slated to be permanently closed not later than 2020 and 2025 respectively.

These closures would make the Pacific Northwest the cleanest corner of the United States in terms of the poisons of coal smoke pollution and its effect on men and the natural environment.

But if energy giants Ambre Energy of Australia and their American partners, Millennium Bulk Logistics and Arch Coal, have their ways, Washington and Oregon will soon see coal smoke, the end of which is in distant sight, supplemented by a pall of never-ending coal dust as 12 coal trains a day lumber across Eastern Washington and thence through the scenic Columbia River Gorge or across the Cascade Range to bring strip mined Wyoming and Montana coal to major coal export terminals to be built at Longview and other locations on the Columbia River, as well as at Cherry Point near Bellingham.

Each coal train would be more than a mile long and communities along the route—from Spokane in the east to off-loading rail terminals on the banks of the Columbia River at places like St. Helens near Longview and Cherry Point on Puget Sound in the west—would suffer a virtual nightmare of noise, diesel engine fumes, coal dust, and traffic disruptions day and night, every day of the year.

The coal would be loaded onto barges and container ships at river terminals and at Bellingham to begin its long journey across the Pacific Ocean to Asian markets where it would be burned, only to come back to haunt the Pacific Northwest still again as heavy metal-laden smog and acid rain.

And do not be lulled into thinking this is all in a discussion stage and that “tree huggers” will prevent the nightmare from materializing. A number of environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and the Columbia Riverkeeper, are working heroically to rouse a lethargic public to force an end to coal export plans here.

But those plans continue apace and the coal giants are confident their lobbyists, money, and promises of jobs to boost local economies will see them prevail.

Millennium Bulk Logistics recently bought a 416 acre site along the Columbia River for a coal export terminal. After requesting a permit to ship 5.7 million tons of coal a year, Millennium was forced to withdraw its application when documents showed it deliberately deceived Longview residents and public officials. The company actually planned to expand the facility to move between 25 and 80 million tons of coal per year. Millennium will be back with another permit application. They are determined.

And within the last 45 days the Port of St. Helens, Oregon, disclosed that a proposal for a coal export terminal on the Columbia River 48 miles downstream of Portland had been signed with energy giant Kinder Morgan and a company called Pacific Transloading LLC, a subsidiary of Ambre Energy. The proposal to grant the lease was signed January 25, 2012, after a public-excluding executive session and despite overwhelming and vocal testimony opposing coal terminals in Washington and Oregon.

Clearly, the coal is coming unless citizens of Washington and Oregon turn up the heat on their elected officials and raise more hell than their typically erudite and quietly logical style dictates.

The opposition is ruthless. The opposition is well-heeled. The opposition is determined to export 80 million or more tons of coal across Washington and down the Columbia River Gorge to the Pacific each year unless people waken to the threat and take whatever action is necessary to derail this coal train juggernaut that threatens to destroy our home and lifestyle.

Large scale coal exporting through the Pacific Northwest should not be permitted.

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