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Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words

April 2, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Coal-export terminal in Cherry Point needs rigorous environmental review

Longview’s proposed coal-export terminal

Lance Dickie, in his recent column on a proposed coal-export terminal at Cherry Point, failed to mention another huge coal-export terminal being proposed for Longview in Cowlitz County. [“Huge coal-export terminal needs rigorous environmental review,” Opinion, March 30].

Vancouver would bear the cumulative effects of over 20 coal trains per day (each train is 1.5 miles long) heading north to both export terminals. Since fully loaded coal trains are unable to climb mountain passes, they would be coming down the Columbia River Gorge before heading north to Longview and Cherry Point, negatively affecting communities along the way.

City councils in Camas and Washougal are concerned and have passed resolutions requesting information regarding effects on their communities. Over 50 local businesses in Clark County have signed a letter to Peter Goldmark, Commissioner of Public Lands, raising concerns about impacts to businesses, citizens’ health, traffic congestion, emergency services and environmental degradation. In addition, over 40,000 citizens have signed petitions opposing these terminals.

There are negligible benefits to the people of Clark County and many serious consequences. The scope of environmental impact statements must include all communities that will bear the consequences of any decisions to permit these export terminals. It is, therefore, imperative that hearings be held throughout Western Washington.

— Marion Ward, Vancouver

Not healthy

If the proposed trains are allowed to transport coal to the ports along the Washington and Oregon coast, the states will be in a continuous shroud of toxic coal dust.

The narrow stretch of land along the Columbia River Gorge, which is dividing the two states, is supposed to double the train traffic in the near future. These open trains will pollute orchards and fields and will be hazardous when the tracks are wet. Not only is the dust poisonous, but the additional diesel engines will further pollute the air. Business will be affected, wind surfers will find access to the water blocked, and long-term illness, such as asthma, will rise.

If we export coal to China it will come back as acid rain to further pollute our rivers and lakes. The transport of toxic coal is not a good scenario for healthy living in the Northwest.

— Helga Burkhardt, White Salmon

Find other solutions

A solution to a problem should not cause a problem of equal or greater harm than the existing problem.

Unemployment is a major problem. The proposed solution will cause greater, permanent problems than a few temporary jobs will solve.

Coal is the dirtiest way to produce energy; advanced countries have phased out coal burning; coal ports will deposit dangerous coal dust on towns and people and smother life in adjacent waters.

Diesel-powered trains create dangerous air, land and water pollution. Nine additional freight trains will carry coal in open cars and nine more empty cars per day will travel along the I-5 corridor; rail companies don’t maintain or improve crossings, taxpayers do. Coal burned in Asia will return to us as air pollution; coal-produced air pollution is a cause of climate changing global warming.

Less-destructive means to create jobs are available if government officials refuse corporate campaign support and find other solutions to unemployment. Voters must insist they do it.

— Joline Bettendorf, Mount Vernon

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