Submission Number: MBTL-EIS-0002948 

Received: 11/8/2013 6:06:00 PM
Commenter: Rose Ann Witt
Organization: 
State: 

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:Rose Ann Witt <rawitt@verizon.net> Sent:Friday, November 08, 2013 6:03 PM To:comments@millenniumbulkeiswa.gov Subject:Docket 2013-19738: Comment on Scope of EIS for Millennium Bulk Terminals Coal Terminal

Nov 8, 2013

Millennium Bulk Terminals Lead Agencies

Dear Millennium Bulk Terminals Lead Agencies,

As a biologist, mother of a high school Junior hoping to attend college in Washington, and American citizen greatly concerned by the very real threat of climate change, I strongly oppose the construction of a coal export terminal at Longview, WA that would transport coal on trains and ships throughout the Northwest, to be exported, sold and burned in Asia. Coal exports threaten endangered species and human communities alike, both locally and globally.

If built, this terminal will have drastic impacts on the health of our natural ecosystems and our communities. The Millennium Environmental Impact Study must evaluate the effects of dust from uncovered coal trains, pollution into the Columbia River, terminal construction and operation, diesel emissions from increased barging and railway traffic, transfer of the coal from barges to oceangoing vessels, potential for spills and threats to endangered species.

Coal power plants are among the largest sources of heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions in the world. They are also a major source of pollution that causes acid rain, smog, and mercury contamination. When people talk about "clean" coal, they are usually referring to expensive, high-tech coal plants that are designed to reduce the vast amounts of pollution and carbon emissions coal causes when it is burned. Pollution-scrubbing and carbon-capture technologies do exist that can lessen coal's air emissions; but, even with such technologies, coal is a lot dirtier than other energy sources when you consider its entire fuel cycle.

Coal power plants also represent the largest source of human-made mercury emissions. Transporting coal represents another huge environmental impact. Our current annual consumption of more than over 1 billion tons of coal per year in the United States makes up roughly 40 percent of the total freight moved in the nation, adding further to coal's pollution and emissions profile. Transporting up to 44 million more tons of coal every year across the Northwest and the Pacific Ocean to Asia will only make a bad situation worse. In addition to the mercury that bioaccumulates in our seafood, and carbon dioxide emissions that escalate global climate change and increase ocean acidification, the transport and use of coal also adds numerous other toxins to our atmosphere -- including heavy metals that leach into our waterways, and carcinogens that sicken both animals and people.

The Millennium Environmental Impact Study must thus consider the cumulative effect that approval of this terminal and coal exports would have from start to finish, including every step in the process -- from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming to the power grids in Asia.

It should also be noted that the coal-train traffic impacts in Longview are so great that Millennium cannot operate without massive, taxpayer-funded rail infrastructure changes currently planned as the S.R. 432 Project. Because of this, the S.R. 432 Project must also be analyzed in the Millennium Environmental Impact Study.

Finally, the Study should also consider the negative impact which shipping coal for use throughout Asia will have on accelerating Climate Change. In our warming world, March 2013 marked the 337th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. In the contiguous United States, 2012 superseded 2011 as the hottest year on record. Last summer (2012), the Arctic hit record low sea ice levels. Rapidly retreating glaciers worldwide are diminishing the global freshwater supply. And a tumultuous, increasingly unpredictable global climate is now regularly generating extreme weather events including widespread drought, wildfires, flooding and super storms which have become the new normal. Climate change is no longer imminent; it's here. Humanity increasingly risks catastrophic food scarcity, population displacement, international conflict and natural disasters on an epic scale, if we fail to transition now to renewables. Pursuing policies that exacerbate climate change is especially irresponsible in light of research by Stanford professor Mark Jacobson, who argues that the U.S. could stop drilling for coal, oil and natural gas altogether and still handle ALL of the country's current energy needs by bundling together the renewable resources of wind, high-concentrated solar power, geothermal power, hydroelectric power and tidal power. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XCYlCF3QuQ and/or http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-path-to-sustainable-energy-by-2030)

The United States, and our global community, can no longer afford to continue bending to the will of a fossil fuel industry intent only on propagating its own profits. The quality of life of every American, and perhaps the very survival of humanity, is at stake in every decision reached regarding continued and expanded fossil fuel use.

The question we need to be asking ourselves is not how do we wean ourselves off foreign oil but rather how do we wean ourselves off fossil fuels?

44 million tons of coal would be shipped through the Millennium Bulk Terminals annually, making them the largest coal-export terminals in the United States. This coal, and the resulting coal dust that escapes trains transporting coal from Wyoming and Montana through the Pacific Northwest, would harm local communities by increasing congestion and noise with more coal train traffic, polluting air and local waterways, harming existing businesses, and delaying emergency responders. More broadly, it would also damage aquatic ecosystems and fishing areas on the Columbia River, threaten human health, increase tanker traffic and the potential for shipping accidents and spills, expand strip-mining in Wyoming and Montana, and escalate global climate change. It is clear to me that these terminals should not be built.

I strongly urge you to consider all of these impacts in the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement.

Sincerely,

Rose Ann Witt

Thousand Oaks, CA 91362