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December 6, 2013 at 6:15 AM

Look at the economic costs of exporting coal

Twenty-three Washington lawmakers have asked Gov. Jay Inslee to “conduct a thorough, comprehensive assessment of the full economic impact of the coal export proposals on Washington State.” A wholly appropriate request and inquiry.

Led by state Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, the legislators want to know the net economic costs of siting coal export facilities in the state.

State Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle (Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times)

State Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle
(Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times)

The job creation potential of coal export terminals near Bellingham and Longview are prominently mentioned by proponents, but the additional infrastructure costs for cities and towns along the statewide path of the trains does not get tallied.

Carlyle and others have asked for the broadest possible environmental assessment of the projects. But as the legislator from Seattle’s 36th District notes, there is no requirement in the permitting process “to develop an objective balance sheet of the full costs and benefits of these proposals.” How much will taxpayers end up paying to subsidize the expansions and upgrades of roads and bridges and other civic infrastructure to accommodate and remediate for daily streams of coal trains?

Carlyle, who chairs the House Finance Committee, and the 22 co-signers of the Dec. 2nd letter make clear their fiduciary responsibilities to taxpayers. A duty the governor has as well. Run the whole tab on these coal terminals.

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