The June 18 disclosure from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“Army Corps: No broad study of coal trains planned”) that the corps will not consider the environmental and public safety consequences to Spokane and other rail communities from the proposed increase of coal exports from the Powder River Basin was both infuriating and ludicrous on its face.
During the permitting process, over 500 businesses, 160 elected officials, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, 10 members of Congress, three dozen municipalities (including Spokane), over 100 organizations, 600 health professionals, a dozen newspapers and at least 35,000 citizens wrote to the corps calling for an area-wide study of the impacts, including details on what an increase in coal exporting would do to rail communities like Spokane and how this project would add to the dangerous levels of greenhouse gases that are warming our planet.
Moreover, as opponents will shortly be demonstrating in court challenges, there are measurable harmful effects on Northwest communities involving environmental degradation and public safety.
Now is the time for us to support our governors and other elected leaders – like Spokane Council President Ben Stuckart and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn – in their efforts to hold big coal and the corps accountable.