SSA Marine plans to develop one of the largest coal export facilities on the continent at Cherry Point, in northwest Washington. Each day, as many as 18 coal trains (9 loaded and 9 returning) would shuttle coal from Peabody Coal mines in Montana and Wyoming to Spokane, through Pasco, down through the Columbia River Gorge to Vancouver and Longview, and up along the coast, passing through Lacey, Tacoma, Seattle, Edmonds, Everett, Marysville, Stanwood, Mt. Vernon, Bellingham, Ferndale and all points in between.
Anyone who lives in Edmonds, or has even visited the Edmonds waterfront, beaches, and marsh, will sense that adding more coal trains (a mile-and-a-half long, each), will have an adverse impact on our economy, ecology, environment, and our ability to use our waterfront areas. The potential for accidents also goes up when more coal trains are added. Here’s a coal train that jumped the rails in Auburn just last month. Imagine if this was near the Edmonds Marsh:
The plans for the new coal shipping terminal will be under review likely for the next two years. It’s easy to dismiss something that will be so long in coming, but the counter to that is that the review phase is the ONLY chance for affected communities to raise their concerns. Once it’s approved… construction begins and the trains start rolling. And here’s a fun fact: one coal car carries about 100-110 tons of coal, which is enough to power a large power generation facility for about 20 minutes. Is that worth the risk?
What can you do and where can you learn more?
Attend our organizing meetings. Learn more about the project and its potential impacts from local professionals and community organizers, and learn how you can participate in the process. Our next meeting is:
- Thursday, December 1st, 7-9pm
- Edmonds Library Plaza Room (upstairs), 650 Main St. Edmonds
- RSVP for the event by emailing SustainableEdmonds@gmail.com
Links and resources:
1. National Geograpic, “Seeking a Pacific Northwest Gateway for U.S. Coal“, Oct 20, 2011. Some of the specifics in this article are incorrect (such as the number of jobs, and the proposal to ship wheat and other commodities in addition to coal), but much of the arguments for and against are well stated.
2. “Coal Train Facts”, http://coaltrainfacts.org . A comprehensive website of facts, public documents, and background material essential to fully understanding the coal export issue and how it impacts the PNW.
3. Sierra Club “Coal Free Washington” group. Website for information and organization with the intention of eliminating coal from WA.