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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 28, 2013 at 4:36 PM

Gov. Jay Inslee and Oregon Gov. Kizhaber address White House on coal

Coal terminals will counteract environmental progress

On behalf of FRIENDS of the San Juans, I would like to thank Gov. Jay Inslee and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber for urging a thorough examination of the greenhouse-gas emissions and other air-quality effects of coal leasing and export in their March 25 letter to the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality [“2 governors wade into coal-export controversy,” NWTuesday, March 26].

Climate change is the most far-reaching impact of coal export for our global community. In San Juan County alone it could mean greater sea-level rise, more extreme weather events and increased ocean acidification that will impact our shellfisheries.

The Gateway Pacific Terminal north of Bellingham would ship 48 million metric tons (MMT) of coal every year. Burning this coal would create 96 MMT of carbon dioxide every year. Washington state’s 2010 carbon-dioxide emissions due to fossil-fuel combustion totaled 76.64 MMT every year (according to the Environmental Protection Agency). Just one of the proposed coal terminals would double our state’s greenhouse-gas emissions — counteracting all of Washington’s leadership in setting progressive policies intended to address our effect on climate change.

I am encouraged to see Govs. Inslee and Kitzhaber working together to take a stand on climate change that is associated with coal export. This is an important step toward making sure all environmental impacts are evaluated when permits are being considered for the coal-export terminals in Washington and Oregon.

–Katie Fleming, community engagement director, FRIENDS of the San Juans, Friday Harbor

Coal project proponents should welcome close scrutiny

This week Gov. Jay Inslee asked the federal government to undertake a “thorough examination” of Washington’s proposed coal-export facilities, as reported in The Seattle Times. I have noticed that each time an elected official, citizen group, tribal council, physicians group or other calls for close study of the proposed coal export terminals, the companies and individuals positioned to benefit financially from the projects issue dire warning: “It will cost us!” “This is a bad precedent for business!”

I think most Washingtonians see through this and are left wondering what coal-port cheerleaders have to hide. If the Gateway Pacific Terminal and other coal-export projects are such a good idea for our communities, then project proponents should welcome — rather than attempt to thwart — close scrutiny by the public and decision-makers.

–Shannon Wright, executive director, Communitywise, Bellingham

Comments | More in Barack Obama administration, Climate change, Environment | Topics: coal, Jay Inslee


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