Two Seminal Articles with the Same Basic Answer: No PNW Coal Trains or Coal Exports

By Bob Ferris

Two articles about two recently released studies are making the rounds in the Pacific Northwest.  The first one reiterates concerns about our souring seas as coastal waters become increasingly more acidic and impact a broader range of our shared aquatic resources.  This work clearly talks about the need for more regional work such as controlling agricultural and urban runoff, but puts the exclamation point on making sure that more carbon dioxide does not get into our precious atmosphere from any source anywhere (Hint: Asia absolutely qualifies as anywhere).  

The second article relates to a study that links autism risk to pre-natal and early childhood exposure to traffic emissions.  This has absolute applicability as we contemplate hundreds of million tons of coal shipped via trains through Northwest ports, cities and our countryside.  While trains certainly reduce emissions when compared to trucks—no one is contemplating shipping the coal by trucks—and these coal train associated emissions would be added to emission loads that are already causing serious health risks.   It should be noted that these emission impacts are also a social justice issue because the impacted neighborhoods that the coal, train and shipping interests are so willing to write off as insignificant impacts are the most economically challenged. 
These are two more reasons to add to the overwhelming and growing pile of arguments against pursuing options for Powder River basin coal exports.  And where does the increased incidence of early onset MS fit into this whole equation?