There has been considerable discussion about six proposed coal export terminals in Washington and Oregon. These terminals, if built, will create regional jobs in transportation, terminal construction and terminal operations.
However, there are negatives related to these proposals, the most significant being climate change. Most members of the scientific community agree that climate change is occurring at a rapid rate and already is having far-reaching impacts, mostly adverse, on much of the world. And most scientists agree that climate change is manmade, with the burning of fossil fuels being the major cause.
I challenge business, labor and government supporters of these coal terminals to justify their positions in terms of cost/benefit. Are more regional jobs worth the long-term impact on future generations? If so, how can we mitigate the adverse effect that burning this coal will have, even far away in Asia? Aren’t we being shortsighted if we focus on regional jobs and ignore the climatic effect?
My skepticism may be unpopular with many within the maritime industry, of which I was once a part. My background includes more than 35 years in the region’s maritime transportation industry, and I was chair of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce Maritime Committee in the 1980s. I also have been involved in Washington’s environmental industry for the past 22 years and am deeply concerned about the lack of public awareness and political will regarding the damage fossil fuels are doing to our planet.