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September 5, 2013 at 4:27 PM
Do the math
The city of Seattle has been corrupted in such a way that it has allowed hedge-fund guy Chris Hansen to pay for an economic-impact evaluation of his arena proposal, thereby assuring the sort of objective research expected of paid advocates like lawyers or public relations people. [“Editorial: Make Hansen fund arena vote in Seattle,” Opinion, Aug. 20.]
Owners of professional-sports franchises claim the economic impact of a professional-sports team is equal to the sum of all the money spent by a fan of that team; not only tickets, but T-shirts and ball caps and refreshments, both at the game and before and after the game.
That seems like a lot of money, until you realize that it’s mostly money being spent in different places within the same local economy and to accurately calculate the contribution of a professional-sports team to a local economy it is necessary to calculate the losses of other businesses in the same economy.
You’re not adding anything to Seattle’s economy by having people drinking in a bar in Lower Queen Anne when they would otherwise be drinking in Ballard or Capitol Hill, you’re merely shifting the places where money is spent.
I hope that Seattle will insist on a traffic study as part of economic- and environmental-impact reports. Such research could use traffic-flow simulators, which could be used to estimate the effects of adding thousands vehicles to and from a new arena. Calculate how much time people would spend in traffic, turning fossil fuels into pollution, each time there would be a game.
I’d bet that when you consider the costs in other people’s time and environmental costs, the economic costs of an arena in Sodo would be greater than the supposed benefits of Chris Hansen’s proposal.
Tony Formo, Seattle
August 23, 2013 at 11:13 AM
The law of unintended consequences
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
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
June 19, 2013 at 4:00 PM
Governor must do what Army Corps failed to
After months of thought, the Army Corps of Engineers has decided not to do a comprehensive study of the impacts of proposed coal trains. [“Corps review won’t weigh impact of coal beyond NW,” NW Wednesday, June 19.]
Instead, it will study only the effects at the proposed terminal sites. This astoundingly shortsighted decision ignores the overwhelming call during public hearings last November for an area-wide study.
The decision also chooses to ignore the impacts of coal dust from the trains to each community along the way, runoff effects into bodies of water, health and environmental degradation and the safety impacts of numerous long coal trains at each railroad crossing.
Gov. Jay Inslee’s mission is now clear: He must do what the Army Corps shrugged off, and initiate a comprehensive study by the State Department of Ecology on the area-wide effect of coal trains and all the harm they will cause!
Mike Shaw, Edmonds
Tolls should prevent coal trains
I believe coal trains must not be permitted to pass through Seattle. I think the best way to stop them is to put a high toll on the trains. This toll should pay for all expected cleanup and traffic congestion fixes that will be required.
Maybe the trains should be permitted through Seattle only at night if we can’t stop them.
John Southall, Seattle
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