Submission Number: MBTL-EIS-0001953
Received: 11/11/2013 4:31:53 PM
Commenter: Elizabeth Hauser
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
I would like to make a comment for the Environmental Impact Statement for the Millennium Bulk port being considered in Vancouver, Washington. We are at a fragile juncture in history and we must be constantly aware of our decisions in view of the impact they may have on the future of the planet. We must take the broadest view in all environmental impact statements in order to protect the future for our grandchildren’s grandchildren. This particular project has many ramifications.
First, we must consider the effect on the region the coal is taken from. The land is devastated after coal removal but this coal will not be removed until there is a way to transport it to China. Simply by not allowing the Millennium Bulk port we can prevent the devastation that will happen in Montana. Also, the coal seam in question needs to be surveyed for chemical content and the results of the survey--as well as any possible dangers to the people near the mine, the railway, and the port--need to be made public.
Second, the effects to the 23 ecosystems involved in the route of the coal train need to be figured. Since coal cars cannot be covered due to the danger of explosion, some coal will be released into the air damaging people’s lungs. Washington state already has higher than average rates of asthma, and lung cancer is the leading cause of death in Washington state. And will the coal particles released be enough to affect the salmon and other life in rivers that are downwind? The cost to infrastructure because of increased train traffic also needs to be figured. And of course, the possibility of derailments and spills needs to be considered. Even one derailment could be devastating, six of which have occurred in North America this year. Since coal is becoming less and less cost-effective, and since we are not actually going to be burning the coal here, there is not likely to be much money spent to ensure that accidents do not happen.
Thirdly, and most importantly, the effect on the atmospheric carbon levels needs to be figured. We are almost at 400ppm and scientists generally agree that a safe level is 350ppm. What will be the increase in carbon in the atmosphere from burning this large amount of coal? We do not know where the breaking point is; we only know that we are now in dangerous territory. Moreover, coal combustion releases mercury into the air, which then falls on land and water and collects in seafood. Scientists already know that much of the mercury in our fish comes from Asia and this added coal would just be compounding the problem. A very sad fact in relation to mercury is that it is most dangerous to a developing fetus.
Additionally, we should consider the effects on China. Their capital city of Beijing already has extremely dangerous air pollution and the use of coal has become controversial in China. Without our coal they are more likely to increase their efforts toward alternative energies. Already China is a leader in new wind power generation.
The final point is that all of this damage is being done so that China can increase energy production. We receive nothing but damaging side effects. I would prefer that some of my tax dollars be used to support clean energy and businesses that would decrease carbon in the atmosphere, perhaps making things that can be completely recycled as is done in Germany. As part of the EIS we should figure out all the costs to every governmental system involved in any part of this project and do some research into the benefits of investing that money instead in clean energy and businesses. We need to think “outside the box” in order to preserve our way of life.