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Say no to coal trains and terminals | My Turn
It seems every three months or so an article or editorial appears in the Kent Reporter in support of building coal export terminals in Washington and allowing the associated 18 trains a day – each a mile or so long – to pass through our communities.
The author tends to be someone with an impressive sounding business title who is promoting the proposed project as being good for the economy and thereby the public as a whole. They tend to play up the supposed benefits while playing down or saying nothing about the costs. And while they may appear to be random stand-alone articles, they're more likely a planned component of big coal and other business interests' overall strategy to ram this thing through by making it sound reasonable or at least acceptable.
I think the public knows otherwise. These pro-coal articles are designed to slowly wear away at peoples' gut instincts and thereby grow support for, or at least reduce opposition to, the project. It's important that we not allow ourselves to be fooled here. This is all about a minority (big business and big money) seeking great financial benefits while passing the costs off on the majority.
In a nutshell, the project's proponents are asking us to support or allow massive amounts of Montana and Wyoming coal to be dug up and transported through our state to Asia, where it would be burned and contribute to climate change, which affects us all.
And though this is an energy proposal, it's even questionable how much energy sense it even makes. Consider, for example, the energy consumed in mining, loading and transporting the coal. And regarding the trains, we are all expected to bear the daily costs of the gas and time we burn while waiting for them to pass. When these energy costs are factored in, it's unclear how much net energy the proposal would even produce.
As a teaser, proponents point to the jobs the project would produce. However, relatively few would be permanent, they won't be in South King County, and on the whole would amount to a mere drop in the bucket regionally. And the upshot – the project would make it harder for those who already have jobs to get to them on time. While a few would benefit from the jobs produced, we are all being asked to foot a huge bill for them.
This is not the kind of economic activity we should be creating. We could, for example, mine the Washington Monument or State Capitol for marble. This would create jobs, but not ones that make us better off. Let's reject this proposal as the opportunistic, selfish money grab it is.
Mark R. Johnston is a Kent resident and contributor to the Kent Reporter.