Submission Number: MBTL-EIS-0002317
Received: 11/18/2013 8:59:58 PM
Commenter: Philippe Mazaud
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 am writing to express my opposition to plans for greatly increased coal extraction and shipping, via rail and on water through Oregon and Washington, and to the related plans to build a vast marine terminal for coal export.
The plans strike me as misguided on multiple levels: from a more global perspective of environmental and energy policies, from that of regional and local economics, and, not least, that of regional and local infrastructure and environment.
I will not dwell on the regressive nature of moves to promote coal (in a nutshell: back to the 19th century). While coal may still remain with us for some time to come, all efforts should be aimed at making it something of the past.
Incidentally, the claim that since the coal is be shipped off to "distant" China and processed there, it will not affect the Pacific Northwest, has been persuasively shown to be incorrect.
Nor will I dwell on what has been convincingly argued by most independent observers: namely that the economic benefits, beyond the near-term, to the Pacific Northwest and to Oregon in particular, are doubtful, and certainly have been exaggerated by proponents.
But what I wish to stress, as a resident of SE Portland, is the extremely negative impact that massive rail shipments of coal, in open-air containers, will have locally and regionally.
Spraying the coal will not prevent significant dispersion of highly polluting coal dust. Need we be reminded of the strength of winds along the Columbia Valley – it is no coincidence that Hood River has been dubbed "the world's windsurfing capital", and that so many wind turbines are positioned on either sides of the river.
Furthermore, the rail infrastructure, *most especially within the densely populated urban core of Portland* is already inadequate: the increased rail traffic, completely aside from the issue of coal dust, will make an already bad situation intolerable.
Endless trains, crawling through the city, blocking level crossings for minutes at a time (I have recently had to wait at one such crossing for about a quarter of an hour), absurdly loud horns blown so at to be heard miles away (instead of directed at the crossing), repeatedly disrupting neighborhoods in the middle of the night: these are not "minor inconveniences". Beyond a quality of life issue, significant as it may be, they are a safety and a public health problem.
It is my hope that decision-makers will heed views expressed by *independent* observers, and take stock of public opposition to the plan.