An unprecedented increase in rail and ocean vessel transport of fossil fuels through the Pacific Northwest threatens the solid footing of Washington’s existing trade, local economies, and environment.
SSA and proponents of the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) claim that it is a “privately-funded” project. However, the project and subsequent rail loops and spurs to the facility will be subsidized with public funds at both the state and national level. In fact, costs to communities will extend from the terminal to the Powder River Basin for necessary upgrades and/or alternatives to crossings.
The increased number of freight trains, particularly coal trains, on the Shoreline corridor will put added stress on an already overtaxed system, raising the likelihood that trains traveling to and from the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal will utilize the entire rail system in Whatcom County, including the Farm Land corridor in Eastern Whatcom County [see rail maps for additional information].
Coal transport from the Powder River Basin to Cherry Point exposes populations along rail corridors to diesel emissions and coal dust, resulting in exposure to particulates and heavy metals such as mercury and lead. A group of over 200 area physicians, Whatcom Docs, has called for a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) to measure those emissions and their health consequences.
The impacts on natural resources were clear even in 1992. Agency remarks clearly outline the substantial impacts on natural resources to be expected by a terminal sited at Cherry Point sans the ecological and safety risks associated with coal export. Loaded Coal Ship at Westshore Terminals, courtesy Paul K. Anderson
Must we choose between the environment and jobs? According to national AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka we should protect the environment to create jobs. In remarks to the U.N. Summit on Climate Risk Jan. 12, 2012, he said, “[C]limate change is happening now … [and a]ddressing climate risk is not a distraction from solving our economic problems… [, it] means retooling our world.” He sees the greening of the nation as the solution to our deplorable economy and jobs situation. Photo courtesy Paul Anderson
Coal Costs US Public Image
When the state promotes us to the world, they list natural beauty; outdoor activities, scenic byways, heritage, regional wine and cuisine; relaxation, culture and heritage. Photo courtesy of Paul Anderson