Submission Number: MBTL-EIS-0001432
Received: 10/25/2013 5:57:40 PM
Commenter: Phil Brooke
Agency: Cowlitz County, the Washington Department of Ecology, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Initiative: Millennium Bulk-Terminals Longview EIS
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Coal and Crude Oil Export Terminals: The Lesson of Kosmos, Washington
I reside in the historic railroading community of Centralia, Washington, where rich history, pillared mansions, and tree-lined streets combine to denote a place that matters to many. I’ve been following the debate over coal and crude oil export terminals with a keen interest, and offer the following perspective:
There once existed a small logging town named Kosmos, Washington. It was just east of Centralia, nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Lewis County. In 1968, after many decades of debate, which included three trips to the U.S. Supreme Court, the waters of the Cowlitz River were finally allowed to rise over tiny Kosmos, as Riffe Lake took shape behind the newly completed Mossyrock Dam. Today, the dam supplies 40% of the clean hydro-electric power Tacoma Power customers and businesses rely on, vital flood control to the surrounding lowlands, recreational opportunities and stable family-wage jobs in numbers higher than ever inhabited Kosmos. Those re-located to make way for the dam were compensated for their sacrifice. Even with the now obvious cost-benefit, the decision to wipe tiny Kosmos off the map was not taken lightly. Indeed, it’s a good case study in how difficult decision-making is approached in a modern democracy.
Recently, Washington State has been inundated by a plethora of coal and crude oil export schemes. These proposals include life-altering impacts to communities along the supply lines: businesses, fisheries, outdoor recreation, the natural environment. Health, safety and property values. All are impacted. Large swaths of our natural environment will face an uncertain future. Since industry is unwilling to study the most subtle and long-term impacts to communities and your health, they remain less clear.
The sheer scale of these proposals is giving even the most ardent of railroading towns great pause. If just the Washington State terminal proposals are built, the proposed daily schedule of coal and crude oil export traffic could include:
• 6 mile and a half-long crude oil tanker trains destined for yet-to-be built super-tanker terminals in Grays Harbor County.
• 14 mile and a half-long crude oil trains running North and South to Puget Sound terminals and refineries.
• 18 mile and a half-long coal trains heading for the Cherry Point Terminal in Bellingham.
• A similar number headed for the Millennium coal terminal in Longview.
• 20 additional mile and a half-long coal trains bound for British Columbia.
• Any number trains carrying Canadian coal and crude oil bound for ports beyond Washington State, but nonetheless passing through impacting Washingtonians.
Many of Washington’s great cities will suffer direct and immediate impacts; a list that includes: Blaine, Burlington, Camas, Centralia, Chehalis, Cheney, Edmonds, Kent, Marysville, Monroe, Mt. Vernon, Puyallup, Seattle, Sedro-Woolley, Spokane, Sumner, Washougal and Winlock. A rundown of the “benefits” we’d be welcoming into our communities includes:
• Blocked intersections hobbling commerce and emergency response;
• Clogged rail lines resulting in higher costs to export products made in Washington. Agriculture, value-added and high tech products. Washington State’s ability to compete globally will be damaged.
• Upwards of 50,000 fishing industry jobs will be placed at risk; as will employment in pass-through communities, recreational and commercial opportunities.
• Reduction in property values for those owning property anywhere near railroads.
• Federal Taxpayers being forced, really insulted, to pay an average of 95% of necessary rail corridor improvements, safety mitigation and crossing projects.
• Premature deterioration of expensive infrastructure due to persistent coal dust corrosion.
• Health impacts from exposing populations, especially the young and elderly, to persistently high levels of benzene, hydrogen sulfide (CONT. ON ATTACH)