Would you want to live next door to a coal export terminal?
Wait, maybe that’s too vague of a question. Instead, let me ask you this…
Would you want mile-long coal trains traveling through your community 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Would you want your children exposed to noxious coal dust as it drifts through the air? Would you want to sacrifice the health of your community so that filthy rich corporations can ship coal to China where it will be burned in poorly regulated power plants and generate filthy air pollution?
Now let me ask you again: would you want to live next door to a coal export terminal?
I sure as hell wouldn’t.
Unfortunately, for residents of Oregon and Washington, the question of living next door to a coal export terminal isn’t merely a rhetorical debate exercise.
Various corporations are proposing to build coal export terminals in those two states to ship coal mined in Montana and Wyoming to China. One such coal export project in Longview, Wash., was canceled earlier this year thanks to the expert lawyering of Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman. And while Hasselman’s astute legal work led to a significant victory, the battle over coal export terminals in the Northwest is far from over.
This week, Columbia Riverkeeper released an excellent video succinctly explaining the Northwest’s ongoing coal export fight. The short film describes the coal companies’ plans to ship coal from America’s West Coast to China and features interviews with local residents who—surprise, surprise—don’t want to live next door to a dirty, polluting coal export terminal.
Hold on, you mean everyday people living in the Northwest oppose the coal export terminals? What about the economy and its infinite growth? What about the poor coal companies’ shareholders? What about this year’s Christmas bonus for the CEO of Peabody Coal? Who are these Northwest weirdos, a bunch of anti-fossil fuel, commie whackos?!
No, they’re just everyday people with families, homes and jobs. They care about clean air. They like being able to drive to the grocery store without having to wait while yet another coal train passes through town spewing black dust from its open boxcars. They support moving toward a clean energy future. But, most of all, they know that they cannot sacrifice their communities’ health for the benefit of profit-hungry coal companies.