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November 25, 2013 at 7:01 PM
A modest win-win proposal
Brian M. Rosenthal’s report about former Attorney General Rob McKenna’s lobbying gig on behalf of Montana and North Dakota coal interests raises several issues [On behalf of North Dakota and Montana, McKenna calls Washington coal study unconstitutional,” Online, Nov. 21].
It’s a modest win-win proposal that might help the coal dust, acid rain and diesel particulates go down a little easier on the Washington state end of the business and help avoid infringing on the rights of Montana and North Dakota citizens to mine and move their coal.
September 20, 2013 at 11:41 AM
Bravo for your excellent series on the causes and costs of ocean acidification. [“Sea Change,” page one, Sept. 15-17.]
It is a tragedy of unimaginable scope. The carbon dioxide responsible for this disaster is created by transportation and power plants that use fossil fuels. Coal is the dirtiest of those fuels.
Why then is Puget Sound Energy (PSE) proposing to continue generating 30 percent of its electricity from coal? The majority of this coal power comes from an aging plant in Colstrip, Mont. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers this plant one of the single largest sources of greenhouse gas west of the Mississippi.
To justify continued coal use, PSE argues that coal will be the cheapest fuel source in the coming years. This cost estimate does not reflect the true cost of coal. It does not include costs for plant repairs, new EPA standards for coal or possible lawsuits for fouling surrounding land and water. It does not include public-health costs. Nor does it include acidification of the oceans or destruction of habitat and multimillion-dollar seafood industries.
It is time for PSE to do the right thing and shift funding from coal to building more renewable sources of energy that will grow a clean-energy economy in Washington state.
Ellen Lockert, Bainbridge Island
September 3, 2013 at 11:29 AM
Widespread damage will result
Proponents of inundating Washington with coal and crude-oil exports are currently spending tens of millions of dollars on a sophisticated public-relations offensive, promising jobs and environmental protection.
Please take that message with a grain of salt. Realize it was crafted by a skilled advertising agency to manipulate you into believing there may be some benefit to welcoming massive amounts of toxic cargo into our communities and waterways.
There is not.
Their single goal is to ease your conscious into ignoring the widespread damage these proposals will inflict, if approved and built, on Washington.
Phil Brooke, Centralia
August 21, 2013 at 7:27 PM
Beating the weather
Leading up to the Seattle mayoral elections, we find yet another discrediting article on Mike McGinn. [“Mayor had coal-study findings since July,” page one, Aug. 20.]
Still unexamined is how the 18 coal trains each day will keep rolling along during the routine track closures from seasonal mudslides between Seattle and Everett.
Maybe the Times-endorsed candidate and former state Senate budget czar Ed Murray can “collaborate” a fix in the weather?
Peter Beaulieu, Shoreline
Two stories, one global issue
I found it interesting that, on Aug. 20, one front-page article addressed the worldwide cost [“Scientists: sea level may rise 3 feet by 2100,” page one, Aug. 20], and another the local cost, of continuing to burn fossil fuels at a breakneck pace.
The report on the impact of 18 coal trains per day through Seattle had significant consequences for our own community in terms of dollars and cents, but also to our health and safety.
The article on the worldwide impact of increasing carbon dioxide output, translated from the impassive scientific terms and even in its least extreme predictions, sounded nothing short of catastrophic to the global community.
When will we come to our senses and insist that our country turn away from this path to disaster and invest in clean alternative energy sources?
Lisa Dekker, Seattle
July 11, 2013 at 7:28 PM
China will get its coal somewhere
The letters that I read in The Times bearing on the subject of coal trains advance the proposition that not exporting coal to China will have a positive effect on stemming global warming. [“Northwest Voices: Coal terminals and air pollution,” Opinion, July 10.]
This is naive. If the United States does not ship coal to China, China will, of course, buy it from someone else. This would have zero effect on global warming, and have a negative effect on our fragile economy.
Victor Matous, Shoreline
Carbon taxes should go both ways
As The Economist so succinctly stated, “the world will one day adopt a carbon tax — but only after exhausting all the alternatives.”
It occurs to me that such a tax needs to cut two ways, taxing carbon combustion while issuing credits for “biocarbon solutions.” [“Guest column: Biocarbon solutions for the climate,” Opinion, July 10.]
If taxes would be market-based incentives to find ways to reduce carbon combustion, then tax credits could certainly be market-based incentives to develop new ways to capture and use atmospheric carbon.
Thomas Dyer, Seattle
July 9, 2013 at 7:30 PM
Pollution should be main focus of debate
With all the talk of long waits at crossings and jobs that will be produced with coal terminals, I find it amazing that no one addresses the elephant in the room. [“Coal, jobs and climate change the debate,” Business, July 7.]
By shipping tons of coal to China so it can be burned in power plants, which have little or no pollution-prevention devices, has it occurred to anyone that, like the aquatic debris from Japan, all that pollution will drift to the West Coast?
Let us not get all tangled up with trains, jobs and such when the real question should be, how many tons of coal pollution is Seattle and the rest of the West Coast ready to breathe?
Wally Adams, Seattle
July 3, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Congestion is a make-or-break issue
So Ken Miller, of Millennium Bulk Terminals in Longview, doesn’t believe the rail congestion is a make-or-break issue. [“Coal trains a concern for congested cities,” page one, June 30.]
Many would disagree with that. If Millennium Bulk builds out to full capacity, there will be a minimum of 16 unit trains per day, clogging 4 intersections in the Longview industrial area.
Traffic is already congested, due to the existing businesses on that corridor. One important rail crossing would block access to the Lewis and Clark bridge, connecting Oregon and Washington.
It is estimated that at rush hour, the last car in line to cross the bridge would need 45 minutes, accounting for traffic signals and backup. St. John’s Hospital serves the entire region; one wonders how many babies will be born on top of the bridge because the mom couldn’t get to the hospital! The same holds true for emergency services reaching the other side of the tracks.
Remedies for this congestion will cost the taxpayers millions of dollars, with the benefits going to a company that wants to exacerbate climate change.
Stop the coal trains now!
Gayle Kiser, president of Landowners and Citizens for a Safe Community, Longview
June 26, 2013 at 4:30 PM
Carbon emissions must be considered
My faith in The Seattle Times’ editorial balance has been boosted with Lance Dickie’s column on the Army Corps of Engineer’s review of the proposed coal export and mile-long trains through Western Washington. [“Corps should broaden coal review,” Opinion, June 21.]
Disruption of our cities and coal dust littered along side of every mile of train track used beg a more thoughtful review. However, as the president announces the proposed limitations on carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants, the emissions of the inevitable burning of this coal in plants around the world should be more broadly viewed. These plants, be they existing or yet to be built, will not provide protection against further carbon emissions.
Coal-fired power plants represent one of the largest activities contributing to pollution of the environment. Thanks for at least proposing a broader review of the region’s next major decision.
Ron Quist, Seattle
June 26, 2013 at 7:30 AM
Deal is unwise, harmful
Will someone please stop the insanity? I read with horror and disbelief that the Crow Tribe of Billings, Mont., has struck a real bowzer of a “deal” in its plans to mine at Powder River Basin, shipping more than 20 million additional tons of coal through Oregon and Washington annually. [“Montana tribe’s coal deal wins government OK,” NW Friday, June 21.]
The economically struggling Crow Tribe anticipates mining jobs and scholarships for its children. 13,000 people stand to benefit from this federally approved agreement. I don’t believe the people in Montana and Wyoming have any idea, however, of the magnitude of the negative impact their greenlighted plan could have on the Pacific Northwest.
Cherry Point, one of two sites in Washington proposed for exporting coal, is home to the Lummi Tribe in Whatcom County, and as a sacred historical site, the Lummi say it is protected by a federally enacted treaty. The Lummi Tribe relies heavily on the local fishing and crabbing industry. This would all be lost and the jobs offered by Gateway Pacific (less than 1,800 to begin with, falling to 294 permanent jobs after construction) would not compensate at all.
We can do better than this sellout “deal.”
Wendy Bartlett, Bellingham
June 25, 2013 at 11:30 AM
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
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