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Despite what anyone says, coal is not clean. And not only is it not clean when it’s burned, but mining and shipping coal also pose dangers to the environment and human health.
Regardless of these facts, two companies are vying to build coal export facilities in Washington State, one in Longview and one in Bellingham. Coal is mined in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana. From here the proposal is that the coal would travel via train to these facilities and then be shipped to Asia, with the bulk of it traveling to China where the demand for coal is nearly insatiable. The proposed facilities would ship a hundred million tons of coal a year or more through Washington ports – spewing toxic coal dust, clogging our railroads and ports, and stoking the climate crisis all the way.
All of this is despite the fact that Washington State, under Governor Christine Gregoire’s leadership, has pledged to reduce our carbon footprint significantly. Just last month the Governor signed an agreement with the TransAlta power plant in Centralia that commits the plant to shutting down by 2025. TransAlta currently contributes 10 percent of the entire State’s greenhouse-gas emissions, which directly contribute to climate change. Something seems really amiss as one considers how hard Washington State is trying to reduce our footprint, seemingly without regard to the fact that climate change induced by China and powered by American coal, ultimately affects us too.
There are things you can do now as a health professional to protect our State, including its citizens, the region and our environment in general.
First, learn more about the situation. Check out this terrific Report Compiled by Sightline’s Eric de Place and/or this Climate Solutions Factsheet, both of which succinctly explain the threats posed by this proposal.
Second, Sign the “No Coal Export” Petition that will go to Governors Gregoire, Kitzhaber and Brown as well as other key leaders.
Third, make a couple of phone calls.
Call Governor Gregoire at (360) 902-4111 and tell her to ensure that Washington says “No to coal export, and YES to a clean energy future.”
Call Public Lands Commissioner Goldmark at (360) 902-1004 and tell him “Don’t use Washington’s public waters for coal export.”
And finally, if you see an article in the Seattle Times or The Spokesman Review or wherever, please make your voice heard by writing a letter to the editor or op-ed. Polling shows that the voice of health professionals is the most compelling in this debate and your voice is needed! (Talking points will be coming soon!)
Tell Congress: Hands off the health protection that EPA is trying to provide! Protect us from methane and ozone emissions now!
Tell local, state and federal agencies to reject a proposal for the largest coal export terminal in the U.S.
Slides by Dr. Ken Lans highlighting what clinicians need to know about the health impacts of climate change. Read more »
Major impacts concluded from analysis of project draft environmental impact statements, Position Statement on Crude Oil Transport and Storage prepared by Washington and Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, and supporting documents. Read more »
Public comment from Laura Skelton, Executive Director of Washington PSR, on the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed Clean Power Plan. Read more »