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COAL: Study combined impacts of export terminal

Letter by Eric B. Hanson, Sumner on Aug. 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm with 23 Comments »
August 21, 2012 1:03 pm

I am very pleased to see the Port of Grays Harbor embrace a better path forward than a coal export terminal (thenewstribune.com, 8-14). The costs to our community don’t make sense, especially given the uncertainty and instability of the international coal market.

A coal terminal would endanger our natural resource-dependent industries, our local economies and the health of our citizens. I know we can do better and am very glad to hear that RailAmerica agrees.

If we export dirty coal, we import dirty air. Toxic coal dust that falls off trains will pollute our air and worsen asthma, respiratory illness and other health problems. Massive coal trains could snarl traffic, cut our town in half and delay emergency services like police and fire. Dirty coal trains would diminish property values, hurt farms and small businesses on Main Street.

In order for people to understand the impacts on their communities from the remaining proposals, the Army Corps of Engineers needs to do a full analysis of the combined impacts of all those proposals. Gary Lewis, a senior vice president at RailAmerica, stated on the decision to abandon the project that “we believe that there are other uses and other opportunities for that terminal that are much more likely to generate jobs, economic development, tax revenues (and provide a) general increase in business.”

There are still five other proposals in the region, those investors should look closely at Grays Harbor and, like RailAmerica, realize that they too can do better than coal export terminals.

Leave a comment Comments → 23
  1. Uncertain? The world is powered by coal. It is cheap and plentiful.

    Eric is obviously not looking for a job, increased tax revenues, or any of the other benefits of increased commerce.

    Those Chinese power plants are goin to burn coal anyway. All your are doing is hurting the US economy.

  2. truthbusterguy says:

    Now you know why we don’t have jobs in WA State. We are 36th in the nation at 8.5% because of the liberal minded enviro wackos that are the democrats.

    Well it’s a moot point anyway. Once the Panama Canal reopens with wider passages ships that used to come here will just go to the EA Coast where these port jobs are welcomed with open arms. So long good paying port jobs.

    You guys have won the war and your spoils are longer lines at the unemployment office. You guys can now hang your “Mission Accomplished” banner of the port side of the MV Kalakala before it to sinks.

    We can shut down all 600 of our coal power plants while in the meantime China starts up 2 coal power plants a week to fuel their economy. You socialist will be the death of America if we don’t stop you this Nov. For God’s sake, it’s for the kids!!

  3. JLSchweizer says:

    Regarding local benefits and drawbacks of coal exports, I think the conversation so far is a bit short sighted.

    A month ago we experienced hazy sunsets thanks to Siberian wildfires. There were no Puget Sound respiratory warnings this time, the experience shows that the earth’s atmosphere and air quality doesn’t discriminate via borders and treaties.

    When citizens are concerned about local air quality from local movement of coal, don’t forget about the drawbacks on the health of international citizens.

    If there is no other reason to prevent local coal exports, it’s to practice what this great state preaches: consideration for the environment.

  4. Why must we endure these phony L… oh… an actual topic instead of another virtual yard sign… okay.

    Jill, if you think our not exporting coal to China will in any way prevent their use of it as a cheap energy source (you know, so they can export items to us that they can make cheaper, thus making the ILWU happier with them than they are with you, given your position) you’re adding a whole new tangent to naivety.

    It isn’t just the Earth’s atmosphere that “doesn’t discriminate via borders and treaties”. The developing world’s demand for cheap energy sources will find “tolerance” via other sources.

    Your passion is appreciated. But let’s face it, the result of it is a zero sum gain.

    Sugar is a known health hazard too, shall we ban exports of it? Shall we also ban cane sugar imports from places like Brazil, Mexico, Honduras, Philippines, etc, etc, etc…?

  5. sandblower says:

    Somebody needs to start the “no coal,” dirty coal ball rolling. It might as well be us.

  6. MyBandito says:

    Clamato says- “Jill, if you think our not exporting coal to China will in any way prevent their use of it as a cheap energy source….”

    Should we take that stand (or lack of one) with other dangerous items that we could export to countries that wouldn’t care about how they were used and who they hurt? This seems to be just another Right wing stand where the only consideration is money. It’s always all about money with you guys. Anything to make a buck.

    Maybe we can’t keep them from burning coal with reckless abandon, but can’t we take a stand against the type of pollution that we saved ourselves from decades ago? Do we have to provide them with the means to wreck our atmosphere?

    Do we supply the bullets to those who would use them against us? Well, maybe we do. But it ain’t right.

  7. ‘dito, it is about money to the extent that everyone wants “living wage jobs”. But it seems those who (with apologies to Gaffer Joe Biden) squeal the loudest for them are also the ones who are eager to lay down on the tracks to keep them away.

    Quixotic naivety will never stop the Chinese from burning cheap fossil fuels and exporting end products back to us (good and bad). But it will take bread off the tables of potential Tacoma wage-earners, and keep much needed revenue out of city and county tax coffers.

    My suggestion to those who would tilt at windmills is to go to Holland instead of yelling at the wind.

  8. MyBandito says:

    So, we should sell weapons to Iran, for the same reasons you’ve listed, above.

  9. Frankenchrist says:

    Well, repukes have a history of selling arms to America’s enemies.

  10. SwordofPerseus says:

    Clamt0 – I think you mean Spain.

    Yes by all means let’s export raw materials to China so they can manufacture them into something, which they can sell back to us for a profit to help them dominate the world economy and destroy the US economy.

    Great plan!

  11. MyBandito says:

    Selling raw materials is third world country mentality.

  12. So, we should sell weapons to Iran, for the same reasons you’ve listed, above.

    Twisted logic, ‘dito. We don’t/ wouldn’t sell coal to Iran even if they were a market for it.

    C’mon, you can do better than that.

  13. Clamt0 – I think you mean Spain.

    No… I meant Holland. I realize the story of Don Quixote took place in Spain but, the last time I checked, there are a heck of a lot more windmills in Holland.

    Yes by all means let’s export raw materials to China so they can manufacture them into something, which they can sell back to us for a profit to help them dominate the world economy and destroy the US economy.

    So, like the rest of the “do as I say, not as I do” rascals here, you merely pay lip service to the notion of balanced trade. In your perfect world, we should let someone else export coal to China so that we can import finished products and further submerge the trade imbalance.

    Okey-dokey.

  14. Selling raw materials is third world country mentality.

    See my 1:59 comment.

    Truth is liberal environmentalists will not stop until we’ve been reduced to third world status.

    But what the hey, we’ll be sitting on the largest reserves of proven energy resources in the world, and we can all feel reallllly good about ourselves and our little mud huts and rickshaws, while we go about learning to speak Chinese, LOL.

  15. SwordofPerseus says:

    Typical non-sense neo-con position. All or nothing. Black or White. Geeze there is no grey area with you people.

    You clearly do not understand trade policies and or value added to resources.

    Sending raw materials overseas to an economic competitor is no way to reduce trade imbalance. Supplying a toxic commodity which when used properly will destroy the ecosystem is bad trade policy clammy.

    You further throw yourself down a hole with this with this ironic statement – “Truth is liberal environmentalists will not stop until we’ve been reduced to third world status.”
    This very policy is being carried out by both idiot sides of the political isle.

    Environmentalism is not destroying our world, it is capitalism.

  16. Sop, given our EPA, energy costs, tort law, labor regulations, we cannot manufacture here. So your solution is sell nothing but debt?

    Great plan

  17. You clearly do not understand trade policies and or value added to resources.

    Oh please, feel free to explain it in your terms – terms we can all understand, I’m sure, LOL. (But if it’s anything like your tin foil hat theories about the FED, don’t bother.)

    Sending raw materials overseas to an economic competitor is no way to reduce trade imbalance.

    Oh… so we should stop exporting cotton too, “swoppy”?

    You clearly do not understand the global economy.

    Environmentalism is not destroying our world, it is capitalism.

    Uhhm, to quote an inanity: “You further throw yourself down a hole with this with this ironic statement…

    Although, I wouldn’t call it “ironic” in the least – just plain dumb.

    Okay “swoppy”, what’s your cure; do away with capitalism in favor of… what? Environmentalism? Yeah that is a great and proven economic system. We could throw in a bit of communism if you like. Socialism? How about fascism? Am I missing any “ism’s”?

  18. MyBandito says:

    SwordofPerseus- Clamato can roll his eyes all he wants. He clearly is in favor of allowing China free reign over our economy. He’s entitled to his opinion. People like him want labor unions to go away “at all costs.” They want the peoples republic of America to ultimately supply them with the same level of employee that’s found in China.

    And they do not care what it costs. To them it’s worth it.

  19. ‘dito, got a link to where I’ve said anything remotely close to your straw man accusations @ 7:52?

    Doubt it.

    The only true things you said had to do with my being entitled to my opinion, and the “roll eyes” comment (and FWIW, they’re rolling faster now).

    I’m going to refrain from responding in kind because it’s a counterproductive waste of time. But you’ve got an ear in swoppy, no doubt.

    Carry-on.

  20. MyBandito says:

    Clamato- Tell me that you don’t want labor unions to go away.

    Tell me that you don’t want wages to be as low as you can get them.

  21. I want public sector unions to go away. I don’t see a need for them in most professions. And I think they’ve priced themselves out of the market in many occupations that used to be unionized. (I also think that trend will continue with the emergence of the global market.) But I work with union shops in various industries where it is beneficial to everyone involved. These happen to be construction related, therby being fairly safe (for the moment) from foreign competition.

    But if you think the status quo or the addition of protectionism will reverse the patterns of the the last 60 years vis-a-vis union membership, you’re whistling past the graveyard.

    I would like to see the US become a Right To Work Nation. And if wages must fall to keep us competitive with emerging economies, I think that’s a sad reality, but a reality nonetheless.

    And, finally, I think if there is a place in the 21st century world for outmoded, 20th Century style unionism, then all you unionistas need to go to places like China, India Vietnam, Mexico, etc, etc, etc, and do your organizing.

  22. MyBandito says:

    What priced the American worker out of manufacturing markets is the availability of slave waged labor. All American workers want is a family wage job with benefits. You want them to compete with Chinese labor rates.

    If you want wages to fall to make us competitive with slave waged emerging economies, then you’ve proved my point.

    Unions and tariffs are needed now more than ever, considering that there are employers who think like you do.

    Go back and read 7:52 and tell me that I haven’t captured your thoughts in essence.

  23. You want them to compete with Chinese labor rates.

    Didn’t say that. Said it’s the new reality, and you’d better find a way to do it, or cease to exist in the emerging global economy.

    If you want wages to fall to make us competitive with slave waged emerging economies, then you’ve proved my point.

    See above paragraph.

    Unions and tariffs are needed now more than ever, considering that there are employers who think like you do.

    If I thought protectionism would work in the 21st century – or at any time, for that matter – I would agree with you. Again, you’re whistling past the graveyard. Adapt or die.

    Go back and read 7:52 and tell me that I haven’t captured your thoughts in essence.

    Uhmm, there is no “7:52″. But if you’re referring to your 7:56, you’ve once again missed the point in monumental fashion. In a way, you’re a microcosm of the whole problem with organized labor in the US today; you possess the self-destructive ability to ignore new, and changing, realities.

    I begrudge no one their means of making a legal living and as much money as demand for their services or contributions will bear. And I’ve already cited examples where I think unions are beneficial – in fact directly beneficial to my own business.

    Believe what you like. As an anti-free trade/ anti corporate and, likely, anti-capitalist, I’m sure you will. But I’d love to talk with you about this again… in 20 years.

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