Spokane – Coal’s Conveyor Belt?
Big Coal will make huge profits, China will get cheap coal, and Spokane will pay the price
Thousands of tons of filthy coal may soon be rolling through Spokane every day.
Here’s a background piece written in 2011.
If coal companies have their way, the entire state will be turned into a massive coal shipping zone impacting our way of life and threatening the health of our air, water, and land. Currently three ports are proposed in Washington (and two in Oregon) to ship millions of tons of coal every year to China and other Asian nations to be burned in power plants.
The dirty truth on proposed ports at Cherry Point near Bellingham, Longview on the Columbia River, and Gray’s Harbor:
- 130 million tons of coal annually
- 30 to 60 trains per day
- each train over a mile long
- each train loaded with 15,000 tons of coal
More Pollution and Health Effects:
These trains would rumble out of the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana cutting through Idaho and Washington belching diesel exhaust, spewing coal dust and diminishing a quality of life that people in Spokane and the Inland Northwest have come to expect.
Exporting pollution to Asia means more environmental problems here at home, including contamination of our local air and water.
- Diesel exhaust emissions from the many trains required to move tens of millions of tons of coal contain more than 40 toxic substances including arsenic, benzene and formaldehyde, and can cause serious health problems including cancer, asthma, heart attacks, and infant deaths.
- When coal is burned in dirty and dangerous coal-fired power plants across the Pacific, the pollution drifts back across the ocean and threatens the health of people throughout the Western United States, including right here in the Pacific Northwest.
More Traffic Congestion and Longer Waits at Railroad Crossings:
A 50% increase in the amount of trains through Spokane will further congest traffic at every railroad crossing in Spokane, delay emergency slow response times for police, firefighters and other first responders, impact transport of valuable Washington-grown and manufactured products.
Spokane has nothing to gain and everything to lose. We are the middle man in this filthy scheme as every coal train heading west will roll through our city. We will see no economic benefit while our aquifer and rivers risk contamination, our air quality will diminish threatening the health of our families and community and our own homegrown products may not make it to market.
The Solution: STOP THE COAL TRAINS!
From Spokane to Seattle and Bellingham to Bellevue, concerned citizens are joining forces to let coal companies know that Washington will not be the conveyor belt for filthy coal.
Emissions from coal plants:
- cost the U.S. over $62 billion in health care
- kill 23,000 people each year
- release dangerous pollutants such as mercury
- contribute massively to climate change
Washington has a long and proud history of economic growth through innovation and a commitment to clean energy. We must continue to strengthen and expand these 21st century economic drivers – not support a dangerous industry like filthy coal.
Riverkeeper is a proud member of Power Past Coal.