Major coal and shipping companies propose to strip-mine coal in Montana and Wyoming, transport it on long coal trains and massive cargo ships through Washington and Oregon, and sell it to Asia. Almost every major Washington community including Tacoma could be impacted.
According to Climate Solutions, shipping 130 million tons of coal annually would add more than 9,000 mile-long coal trains to Washington’s rail system every year. In addition to the added traffic congestion, there would be a variety of other impacts.
Each train car can lose 500 pounds of coal dust en route, polluting rivers, coastlines, farms, cities and towns along the way. The wide-ranging health dangers of coal dust include exposure to toxic heavy metals like mercury and increased rates of asthma, especially in children.
Coal dust and diesel exhaust from coal trains and cargo ships can cause serious long-term health problems like lung and heart disease. In addition, coal dust would pollute our clean air and water.
Burning an additional 130 million to 150 million tons of coal annually in Asia would also produce pollution issues in Washington. Recent scientific studies show that Asia is already an increasing source of mercury and other pollutants on the West Coast. Burning the coal would also significantly increase carbon dioxide levels, aggravating climate change.
To learn more, attend the Coal Hard Truth Forum at 7 p.m. May 8 in the University Center at Pacific Lutheran University.