Submission Number: MBTL-EIS-0000361
Received: 10/3/2013 7:04:02 PM
Commenter: Leonard Rodenberg
Agency: Cowlitz County, the Washington Department of Ecology, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Initiative: Millennium Bulk-Terminals Longview EIS
Attachments: No Attachments
Please include in the environmental impact statement for the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals the affect its approval will have on the global environment.
Sooner or later the hidden long-term costs of environmental degradation will be factored into our measures of economic progress. There is no way around it.
Coal combustion is associated with negative impacts that transcend geographic borders. Ocean acidification, acid rain, mercury emissions, and climate change all affect global populations, regardless of where the coal is burned. The financial cost accrued from health and environmental damages from coal mining, processing, transport and combustion are currently estimated at a third to over half a trillion dollars annually in the U.S. alone.
In 2010 construction did not begin on a single new coal-fired power plant in the United States for the second straight year. In the past two years ten percent of America’s coal plants have been retired or are slated for retirement. We have begun to recognize in this country that coal combustion is not clean or economical to use as a power source.
Coal companies,therefore, have a new plan to sell their product - export it.
While the Millennium Bulk Terminals and the associated coal trains would be active in only the transport and export of coal, it is important to recognize that the only function of coal transport is to link coal mining to coal combustion. The Millennium Bulk Terminals and related enterprises need to be considered as part of this larger system. Each of the various processes associated with coal have negative effects on local economies, public health, communities and the environment. The coal mines in the Powder River Basin (Montana and Wyoming) continue to degrade local aquifers and water supplies.
Coal combustion in China presents a serious health risk to hundreds of millions of people. It is worth considering that our air in the US is directly affected by what happens in Asia, the market to which the Millennium Bulk Terminals would ship coal. The Jaffe Group has proven that mercury emitted by coal combustion in Asia crosses over the Pacific Ocean and pollutes our Northwest water supplies; mercury is implicated in a number of health problems, especially those involving the brain and nervous system. The New York Times has written that sulphur dioxide, which can cause respiratory disorders, likewise blows back to us from Asia. Noted meteorologist and UW atmospheric scientist Cliff Mass has shown that the haze which sometimes hangs over much of our coastline is smoke from massive Asian wildfires. What burns in Asia does not stay in Asia: we all breathe the same air.
China is building at least one new coal-fired power plant every week and has a seemingly limitless appetite for coal. Here is a stunning statistic. If China's carbon usage keeps pace with its economic growth, the country’s carbon dioxide emissions will reach 8 gigatons a year by 2030, which is equal to the entire world’s CO2 production today.
It can be argued that China will get the coal from other sources if Millennium Bulk Terminals are not built. One must assume however, that under the guidance of free markets China will choose to buy their energy from the cheapest source available. By not having the option of purchasing coal from Millennium Bulk Terminals it would be a safe assumption that an alternative source for the coal would be more expensive. Increasing the cost of obtaining energy from coal combustion would result in alternative energy sources such as renewables becoming more attractive to the Chinese.
All the external costs to the environment of digging up coal in Montana and Wyoming and shipping it to Asian markets needs to be taken into consideration in the scope of the environmental impact statement concerning Millennium Bulk Terminals in my opinion.
Thank you for considering my request to have the impacts of building and operating the Millennium Bulk Terminals on the global environment included in the environmental impact statement.