Coal Trains Threaten Environment, Health

Nick Gier

Nick Gier, Moscow

Moscow-Pullman Daily News 11/16/12

If the coal companies and their allies have their way, the nation’s largest coal terminal will be built at Cherry Point, Washington, just north of Bellingham.  It is estimated that 40 to 60 extra coal trains from southeastern Montana and Wyoming will pass through Sandpoint and Spokane.

Nine trains per day will be redirected to Bellingham, and the remainder will be sent to other proposed ports, through a rail system that is already at 80 percent capacity.  Nearly 140 million tons of additional coal will be sent to China each year.

The residents of Spokane will at least have a chance to have their concerns heard.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conduct a “scoping” hearing from 3 to 7 pm on December 4 at the Spokane Fairgrounds.  Activists all along various rail routes are demanding that the scope of the environmental impact review be “from mines to ports,” not just the terminals themselves.

The hearings have been billed as the “biggest experiment in environmental democracy the Northwest has ever seen.”  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has joined the activists in supporting a regional impact study, and the Army Corps has already received 30,000 letters. Continue reading