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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 23, 2013 at 11:13 AM

The impact of the coal trains and exports in Washington

The law of unintended consequences

A coal train rolls through SAM's Olympic Sculpture Park, Friday, April 26, 2013, in  Seattle. [Ken Lambert, The Seattle Times.]

A coal train rolls through SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park, Friday, April 26, 2013, in Seattle. [Ken Lambert, The Seattle Times.]

I recently stopped at a railroad crossing and was amazed at the length of time it took to wait for the coal train to pass. [“Mayor had coal-study findings since July,” page one, Aug. 20.]

It was at least five minutes, which made us do the math. If 18 additional coal trains come chugging up the coast to Bellingham and then return, that is 36 additional trips that will disrupt traffic, congest the piers, blight the beaches and local communities with more coal dust, increase asthma and respiratory illnesses, and depreciate real estate.

But that is just the human cost. What about the health of Puget Sound and the salmon and shellfish industries? Coal is quickly becoming a dirty word, as much as the industry would like to call it “clean.”

Why can’t we see the big picture? The global climate is changing rapidly, and if our thriving communities are in danger, we all lose. Sure, there would be some jobs with the coal terminal, but there never seem to be as many as predicted, and the consequences will also harm those who are painting a rosy picture.

Ask the mine workers, ranchers and farmers who traveled all the way from Wyoming and Montana and testified at the public hearings about the law of unintended consequences.

Elizabeth Cunningham, Seattle

0 Comments | More in Environment, Politics, Seattle | Topics: coal exports, Coal trains, impact

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