It is outrageous that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is failing to fulfill its obligation to thoroughly study the threats to Washington families and communities of coal trains moving through our cities to coastal exporting terminals. Elected officials as well as environmentalists have called on the federal government to study the cumulative effects of such shipments. Even Spokane’s politically diverse city council unanimously passed a resolution to support an area-wide study of local impacts, and 700 residents came out to support our area’s Corps hearing last December.
The Corps is turning a blind eye to the law by not studying the threats to communities along train routes from Wyoming and Montana, all of which come through Spokane. Those threats include impacts to public safety, emergency response times and local economy; effects on water and air of coal mining; health for Puget Sound, the Columbia River, and coastal waters; climate and mercury pollution from burning coal in Asia.
If the Corps won’t act, then Gov. Jay Inslee must ensure an area-wise environmental impact statement is conducted. Coal dust, traffic congestion and contributing to climate change are not what we want for a healthy, vibrant “Near Nature, Near Perfect” Spokane.
W. Thomas Soeldner