No doubt about it: Transporting 100 million tons of coal through Spokane will create many well-paid jobs in the mines, in construction and on the railroad. The operation of shipping facilities will stimulate economies. Given the legal rights of commerce, and BNSF Railway’s willingness to make small adjustments (like covering rail cars), it’s likely this enterprise will occur.
But this activity has likely grim consequences. Record-breaking typhoons struck the Philippines in 2012 and 2013, with staggering recovery costs, and Hurricane Sandy restoration will cost $50 billion. It’s clear both creating the mess, and cleaning it up, stimulates the economy. Because of its immense political power, the fossil fuel industry gets a free ride in burning fossil fuels, and the public picks up the costs.
The United States has discharged more global-warming gases into the atmosphere than any other country, and is exporting more fossil fuels than ever.
If our political and industry leaders don’t face this critical issue responsibly – and soon – fossil fuel-related business will be booming until, as climatologist James Hansen warned, “game over.”