I’m glad to see Grays Harbor embrace a better path forward than a coal export terminal. A coal terminal would endanger our natural resource-dependent industries, our local economies and our health.
If we export dirty coal, we import dirty air. Coal dust that falls off trains pollutes our air and worsens asthma, other respiratory illnesses and other health problems. Massive coal trains, 120 cars long, could snarl traffic, cut our town in half, and lengthen police and fire response times. Dirty coal trains would diminish property values, and hurt farms and small businesses. A simple answer to the coal dust polluting our air would be covering each coal car with a tarp to keep coal dust from polluting the air during the transportation. My guess is, however, the coal companies and railroads won’t even consider that, since it would eat into their profits.
RailAmerica has agreed to back down at Grays Harbor, but there are still five other proposals in the region. For people to understand the impacts on their communities from the remaining proposals, the Army Corps of Engineers needs to do a full analysis of the combined impacts of all of those proposals, including places such as Spokane, which faces the prospect of many new coal trains.