The proposal to build a massive coal export facility in Longview, Wash., is generating concern among Washington residents for good reason. This would be one of the largest-scale industrial projects ever proposed in the Western United States.
Not only would port expansion have substantial impacts on Longview and the Columbia River, citizens along the route would suffer from the immense increase in coal train traffic. Spokane, Sandpoint and other towns in the Northwest would see about 50 coal trains a day, over one mile long, rolling through their communities. That’s a 500 percent increase above current coal traffic.
These trains present a clear public health hazard. Uncovered loads spew coal dust that, combined with an increase in diesel fumes, leads to a decrease in air quality and corresponding increase in asthma and other pulmonary diseases. The inevitable spillage and derailments will impact water quality. And massive new strip mines in Eastern Montana will turn a productive agricultural valley into an industrial wasteland.
With so much at stake, why are there no public hearings scheduled in Spokane on this issue? Residents of Eastern Washington who will be affected by the increase in coal train traffic deserve to have our voices heard.