According to BNSF Railway research, an average 500 pounds of dust and particulate can escape from each coal-bearing rail car during transit. Multiply that by 10 trains per day of 100 cars each.
That’s possibly a staggering 500,000 pounds of coal particulate being scattered daily along the route from the Powder River Basin to a Pacific Northwest port, a great deal of it through the Gorge.
More-frequent coal trains will run on the same rails as all other rail transport, competing with those other products for space. Who will pay for the inevitable upgrades necessary to mitigate economic disruption that will likely affect other industries from congestion of rails and road crossings?
The economics are also negative to those who own the mineral rights to most of the Powder River Basin coal — the U.S. taxpayers.
As the Bureau of Land Management accepts bids, we are paid in the neighborhood of $1.00/ton for a natural resource that could, one day in the near future, be responsibly used here at home through liquefaction or gasification processes, which can reduce the carbon impact.
–Dianne Kocer, Brush Prairie