Topic: coal industry
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May 20, 2013 at 7:58 AM
Keep the coal in the ground
Roger McClellan expresses discomfort with the way activists are using anecdotal evidence of health impacts of coal dust to justify the coal-train protests. [“Let science, not conjecture, guide discussion of coal-train dangers,” Opinion, May 10.]
As a climate scientist, I feel a similar sense of discomfort when I hear political activists invoking anecdotal evidence linking recent storms or unusually hot or cold weather to human-induced climate change; but that does not mean that I am not concerned about the long term impacts of global warming.
And although I share McClellan’s misgivings about some of the rhetoric that is being used to justify them, I strongly support the coal-train protests. Jobs created by mining more coal in North America to burn in China to produce more consumer goods to ship back to the North America will come at a tremendous cost to future generations, who will have to cope with the depletion of our remaining natural resources, the environmental damage caused by expanded coal mining, and the global warming and ocean acidification that will inevitably result from the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
For those of us who care about the kind of world our grandchildren and great grandchildren are going to inherit, there is plenty of sound scientific evidence to justify keeping the coal in the ground.
John M. Wallace, professor emeritus, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle
Focus on the common good
I appreciated Roger McClellan’s guest commentary on the disturbingly hyperbolic coal-port debate. He’s right to say that no one benefits from policy debates driven by “pseudo-science and alarmist claims.”
Think how often we see exploded truck tires on the highway. That’s a tangible and real public-health threat that we deal with every day. We deal with this through safety standards that we expect truckers to meet.
Coal has moved through the region for over a century. When was the last time you heard of someone injured by a coal train in Washington, or complaining of air quality? You haven’t, because our rail system is safe and effective at transporting all kinds of goods and commodities. Finding a piece of coal or a chunk or metal ore is no reason to shut down commerce across the state.
New export facilities deserve to be treated like any other investment opportunity and put through a process that involves a thorough understanding of each individual facility that includes public feedback. That process is playing out now, and shouldn’t be slowed or altered because of a few outlandish publicity stunts.
Let’s focus on the common good.
Suzie Burke, Fremont Dock Co., Seattle
March 27, 2013 at 4:31 PM
Governors show commendable leadership
Reading the newspaper does not usually inspire spontaneous cheering, but reading “2 governors wade into coal-export controversy” [NWTuesday, March 26] did just that.
As one of countless citizens concerned about climate change, I agree that greenhouse-gas pollution connected with coal export needs a comprehensive evaluation. Other kinds of pollution, from burning coal and issues related to coal leasing, also deserve review.
The leadership shown by Govs. Jay Inslee and John Kitzhaber is commendable.
–Connie Voget, Seattle
Being a climate leader means saying no to coal
Way to go Gov. Jay Inslee and Gov. John Kitzhaber! With your joint letter to President Obama asking the federal government to review the climate-change consequences of leasing and exporting Western coal, you are bravely leading us all forward where we need to go.
The governors are absolutely right when they say that the U.S. can’t claim to be a world leader in climate-restoration policy, and then have a reckless and dangerous coal-export policy. It’s no great mystery how coal exports will be used. They won’t be used to build statues or grow crops; exported coal will be burned, to the great detriment of our whole planet. We should stay as far away from this dirty coal business as possible.
–Mike Shaw, Edmonds
March 3, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Corporations benefit from developing countries
The ironies concerning the coal-terminal proposal range from coal replacing ancestral Lummi burial grounds to it blowing back across the Pacific as instant karma [“ ‘Green’ strategists now back coal trains,” page one, Feb. 26].
This issue is parallel with the tobacco industry. American smoking continues to decline while corporate profits continue rising. This is because we are pushers who pawn off an addiction that we are learning to resist upon less-educated countries that are in earlier stages of development. The net effect is corporate profit and sick people.
Coal is going through the same cycle. Our country has found cheaper and more environmentally friendly fuel sources. Corporate America’s solution is once again to pawn it off to other countries for profit. Except this time, there would be a trail of tears from mining to transportation to blowback. If left in the earth, new clean technology may someday make it valuable for us.
American Electric Power recently agreed to close three coal plants in the Midwest. The Clean Air Task Force determined that doing so will prevent 203 deaths, 310 heart attacks, 3,160 asthma attacks and 188 emergency-room visits annually.
What is a fair price for profit? What will it take for us to wake up?
–Harvey Schwartz, Bellingham
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