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.