I spent 40 years in the maritime industry. I worked in San Francisco, Oakland, Portland and Seattle for a steamship company. I spent eight years working for a stevedoring company in Seattle. And I worked for 20 years as a maritime consultant and expert witness. I also served as chairman of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Maritime Committee. So I have an appreciation of the importance of trade to our region, as discussed in Anthony Hemstad’s letter [“Coal exports: makes economic sense,” Opinion, Dec. 18].
Shipping bulk commodities through Pacific Northwest ports to Asia would create regional jobs in transportation and at export terminals. However, there are negatives related to bulk-export proposals, particularly when it comes to coal. The burning of coal, no matter where it happens, contributes to climate change. And climate change may be the most serious long-term global challenge we face today.
The economic development that results from shipping coal through the Pacific Northwest simply is not worth the adverse effect that burning coal, even far away in Asia, will have on our climate. Bulk-export terminals should be considered, however, coal-export operations should not be allowed. As Hemstad writes, we need to be rational. That means being part of the solution, not part of the problem.
— Jeremy Mattox, Seattle