Submission Number: MBTL-EIS-0001778 

Received: 11/4/2013 3:59:00 PM
Commenter: Jeffrey Smith
Organization: 
State: Montana

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
Submission Text
From:Jeffrey J. Smith <yswolfhowl@gmail.com> Sent:Monday, November 04, 2013 3:59 PM To:comments@millenniumbulkeiswa.gov Subject:The Proposed Millennium Terminal
November 4, 2013 To: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, WA Department of Ecology, and Cowlitz County Commission Submitted To: comments@millenniumbulkeiswa.gov From Jeff Smith, 105 Channel Drive, Missoula, MT 59804 Dear Decision-Makers and Representatives, I strongly oppose the construction of a coal export terminal at Longview, Wash., which would transport coal on trains and ships throughout the Northwest. I live in Missoula, Montana, the funnel point for increased rail traffic going to the West Coast from Eastern Montana and Wyoming. This proposal would negatively affect my community ? the Garden City of Montana ? by increasing congestion and noise with more coal train traffic, polluting our air and local waterways, harming existing businesses, and delaying emergency responders. It would also damage aquatic ecosystems and fishing areas on the Clark Fork River, Bitterroot, and Blackfoot Rivers, harm human health, increase the potential for shipping accidents and spills, expand strip-mining in Wyoming and my state, and escalate climate change. We have entered an era where we no longer know what to do with the coal we already mine in Montana because the domestic market is bottoming out. Natural gas and wind generation are replacing coal power plants, and the EPA is imposing new regulation on profligate carbon pollution. We have a suggestion: Leave the coal in the ground. Right now, we are witnessing a desperate, all-out effort by industry to convince the Montana Land Board to license a gargantuan new mine that will produce almost twice as much coal as Montana is currently selling. This Otter Creek Mine in Montana?s Upper Powder River contains high-sodium coal (6 to 9 percent sodium), which has an extremely limited domestic market. Moreover, the application that the Tongue River Railroad submitted to the Surface Transportation Board in December 2012 made clear that the 1.3 billion tons of Montana coal from Otter Creek will go to West Coast terminals like the proposed Millennium Terminal for export to Asia. According to Dave Gambrel, the former director of transportation for the Peabody Coal Company in an article for Coal Age Magazine, coal trains have as many as 135 cars carrying 120 tons each ? 16,200 tons per train. University of Montana economist Tom Power estimates that 33 million tons a year will be mined at Otter Creek when the new mine gets rolling, and we can assume an increase of more than 2,200 new coal trains a year ? each a mile long ? coming through Missoula from Otter Creek alone. That?s 12 new trains a day, adding to the 15 trains-a- day that currently travel through our ?Garden City.? The Clark County Commission in Vancouver, Wash., has estimated that even more trains from the Powder River Basin ? an additional 16 a day, or up to 5,840 a year ? will clog our communities from eastern Wyoming and Montana all the way to Longview, Wash. Many citizens? organizations studying this issue believe that, as the market in the United States shrinks, the new Otter Creek mine will be one of many Powder River Basin mines moving coal to the West Coast for export to Asia. Many people are estimating that the funnel point, Missoula, can expect as many as 40 new coal trains a day. We need to know about the adverse health affects these trains will bring, not to mention 24-hour- a-day safety problems, noise, and traffic due to cars backed up repeatedly at crossing points. Over 600 health professionals in the Northwest have already come out opposing the coal industry?s railroad expansion. Missoula?s own Paul Smith, M.D., a pediatric pulmonologist at Community Hospital, put it succinctly at the Missoula library meeting last spring, saying, ?(Coal dust during shipping is) a huge area of concern, both for adult lung disease and childhood lung disease, as well as water pollution and the heavy metals those coal dusts deposit into our streams.? Dr. Smith also mentioned problems with increased diesel emissions that contain nitric oxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter that cause cumulative damage to the lungs. Lastly, we urge you to give global warming a priority on your list of concerns about the coal industry?s expansion. Missoula?s own Nobel laureate Steve Running, a UM professor who was a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said in a letter to the Great Falls Tribune that ?the ability of the global community to avert the worst-case climate change scenarios comes down to decisions like this one [Otter Creek].? Further, ?From a state carbon emissions point of view, this is the single most important decision in the history of Montana. The combustion of Otter Creek coal would result in approximately 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the life of the mine. Total current emissions from the state of Montana are estimated at 50 million tons per year. So this coal burning would effectively double Montana's present total carbon dioxide emissions for the next half century.? The worst-case climate change scenarios . . . That?s what will be loosed on the world, according to this Nobel Prize winning scientist. Climate change deniers say we cannot develop an America that is 100 percent powered by wind, water, and solar energy. They are wrong. The work of Mark Jacobson (Stanford) and Mark Delucchi (UC Davis) and many others tell us that making the transition away from carbon is not a technical but a political problem. In other words, we are facing a problem not of technological know-how but of political will, of deciding on a future that leaves the coal in the ground and embraces the new renewable energy economy that will provide clean power, millions of good jobs, and a future with a stable climate for our children. You have an important role. Indeed, you can take the lead, breaking through this political impasse by completing an analysis that takes on these issues before setting out down this perilous road of increasing fossil fuel development, an unprecedented expansion of heavy industrial rail traffic, and a ?carbon bomb? of pollution that will make our children and grandchildren's world increasingly inhospitable. I urge you to consider these impacts in the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement. Sincerely, Jeff Smith 105 Channel Drive Missoula, MT 59804