Full scope of consequences of coal must be considered
I agree with Lance Dickie regarding the Army Corps of Engineers’ recent decision not to perform a comprehensive review of a proposal that would dramatically increase the number of trains transporting coal designated for export through Washington. [“Column: Corps should broaden coal review,” Opinion, June 21.]
Considering that global climate change is already impacting Washington’s environment and is projected to cost our state billions of dollars through loss of ecosystem services, increased forest fires, acidification of the ocean and sea-level rise, an in-depth review of the impact of coal exports is essential.
The exported coal would be burned in Asia and contribute to further warming of the atmosphere, which would then contribute to further melting of sea ice in the Arctic, creating an ever larger ocean surface to absorb rather than reflect solar radiation, leading to more global warming.
The rise in temperature would lead to even greater shrinking of Washington’s glaciers and snowpacks, reducing the availability of water for irrigation, power generation and salmon fisheries. Increased acidification of the ocean harms the organisms that live there. In addition to damaging the marine ecosystem, ocean acidification threatens the local shellfish industry, which according to a NOAA fact sheet employs more than 3,000 people and contributes at least $270 million to the local economy.
Large-scale coal transports through Washington also pose significant environmental threats that could endanger the health and livelihoods of communities in the Columbia River Gorge and other areas along the transportation route.
Any decision made regarding coal exports must be based on a solid understanding of all the facts and potential consequences they entail.
Barbara Bengtsson, Seattle