OK I admit it, this is a little bit of a cheat as its a past action; I submitted my comments a couple weeks ago before the public comment period ended this week. But, you can still get involved and submit comments- they wont be included in the scoping summary but you can still write with questions and get on the mailing list for the project at http://www.eisgatewaypacificwa.gov/get-involved/comment.
So, the terminal. Plans are underway to develop North America’s largest coal export terminal at Cherry Point just north of Bellingham, WA. This terminal would be the endpoint of coal mined in the Powder River Basin and brought by rail through several western states, up through the Puget Sound corridor through Seattle, to the export terminal, where it would be shipped out to meet China’s growing appetite for coal.
A massive, complicated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is underway this year to comprehensively evaluate the costs and benefits of this project. I will hopefully make an action item down the line to read this behemoth (or at least its Executive Summary!) In the meantime, its very hard for me to see how the benefits of this proposal could possibly outweigh the many costs, which include huge increases in rail line use that will impact passenger service and many, many of the roadways that intersect with the Puget Sound coastal rail lines with attendant increases in traffic and noise and air pollution, and delays and massive increases in road infrastructure that will quite likely be born by local governments (and their taxpayers). Never mind the fact that we need to ask if we really want our country to be supporting the use of one of the dirtiest, most greenhouse gas-emitting forms of energy possible?
Given Obama’s recent words during his inauguration, “The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But American cannot resist this transition — we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries — we must claim its promise”, I’d say that this coal export proposal is squarely not in line with those priorities.