Sample verbal testimony :
Chair Leiken and County Commissioners:
As you prepare to vote on the draft resolution, we ask that you consider potential huge negative health and environmental impacts of coal exports. Lane County residents have fought long and hard to improve air quality and public health. Please do not undercut that progress by allowing new huge risks to the health of our communities and families. Please amend the current resolution to:
• Support rural jobs and efficient rail transportation for Lane County products
• Omit all references to coal and coal exports to protect our communities from pollution associated with the transport and burning of coal.
Further, we ask the Board of Lane County Commissioners for a work session on coal export and a public hearing on this issue.
Menu of Additional Points for Your Testimony:
– Coal companies want to ship 150 million tons of coal through the Pacific Northwest every year.
They want to develop coal export facilities in Boardman, St. Helens and Coos Bay to ship coal to Asian markets.
– We support rail improvements and job creation but we do not support coal export trains or coal export terminals.
– The plans to export coal to Asia would bring 4 coal trains (each approximately 1.3 miles long) through Lane County every day. The result will be increased diesel emissions, a known carcinogen. There are robust correlations between these pollutants and cardiovascular and respiratory disease, reproductive health problems, and malignancy.
– Coal dust itself is a health concern for people with allergies, asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and heart disease. The dust which blows off train cars (full and empty cars) contains mercury, lead and arsenic, which can coat the yards where children play. To date, no covered rail cars have been utilized due because this Powder River Basin
– Long unit trains will block emergency vehicles for over five minutes as they rumble slowly through towns in Lane County.
Rail improvements to decrease the number of grade-level crossings, for example, are expensive. In many cases, rail companies are limited by federal law to pay only 5 % of the cost of improvements. Where will the money come from to finance rail improvements?
– Coal dust damages tracks and can lead to derailments. There were 12 derailments of coal trains this summer, with four fatalities of innocent bystanders.
– We can't afford to dump coal into precious salmon-bearing streams, either. There are over 150 water crossings between Eugene and Coos Bay.
Coal dust harms the tracks, increasing the risk of derailment for other, non-coal bearing trains.
– Coal is notoriously harmful to its workers and to everyone along the line, from the mines, to the trains, to the barges, to the ports. Because of harmful emissions, Oregon's one coal-burning power plant will be shut down by 2020. But emissions from coal burned in Asia will also cause serious illness right here in Oregon.
– Several recent studies have shown that powerful spring trade winds can carry Asian pollution into the atmosphere above North America. Some of the imported pollution descends to the surface, where it affects ground-level concentrations of ozone, mercury, sulfur compounds and soot. Ground-level ozone can cause severe respiratory problems, including asthma, in susceptible individuals.
– A 2008 study found that Asian emissions of mercury contribute 18% of springtime mercury concentrations at Mount Bachelor. Snowpack runoff ends up in our rivers and lakes where the mercury contaminates the fish we eat. Pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of mercury.
– Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that damages developing brains in children and fetuses. It is estimated that between 300,000 and 600,000 children are born in the U.S. each year with dangerous levels of mercury in their bodies, putting them at heightened risk for developmental disabilities, mental retardation, seizures, and disturbances of gait and speech.
– Another major health concern is the role of coal emissions in causing global climate change. Rising oceans, prolonged droughts, stronger hurricanes, and more intense heat waves are examples of climate change that lead to food shortages, heat stroke and death and injury from natural disasters. The dislocation of people from floods and drought leads to outbreaks of pest and water borne diseases. Children, the poor, the elderly, and anyone with a weak or impaired immune system are among the most vulnerable