Photo by Flickr user gregwest98 (cc)

Letter to the editor: Now is the time to stop coal trains

Dear editor,

Ballard has an opportunity to protest proposed coal trains from coming through our community and the time to take action is now. Now, before SSA Marine is able to get permits to construct a coal-exporting plant at the Cherry Point terminal near Bellingham. Now, before Peabody Coal continues to negotiate terms to ship coal across our state. Now, before the public relations ad campaign is repeated on paid TV spots talking about happy communities and more jobs, while hardly mentioning where those would supposedly come from. If there was ever a time to let the City of Seattle officials and our state’s political leaders know how you see the coal trains impacting your community, this is the time to do so.

With the ever-growing number of open bed coal cars passing through, a number of communities across the state are looking at train tracks as a threat to the environment. It is very different from shipping other commodities along the tracks. Some of the biggest issues are as follows:

1) Coal dust is toxic and unhealthy. It is possibly linked to lung cancer and asthma and is a byproduct of shipping coal in open bed trains.

2) Traffic on the rail lines impacts our cities and transportation flow, especially when increased train traffic is being proposed.

3) Coal is a dirty source of energy. Our turning a blind eye on the use of our state to export to China says we are fine playing a role in further pollution of the global environment.

As I look at the railroad tracks in Ballard and reflect on why it’s so great to live along Puget Sound, I am frustrated at watching coal being shipped across our community to be sold to China. I feel that it is important to share information about this with my neighbors. We are the ones who will foot the bill with increased train traffic, and we are the ones who will pay the cost of environmental pollution from having heavy trains with four or more engines per train spewing particulate matter into our air as they pull up to 125 open bed cars full of coal past our pristine Golden Gardens Park and through our neighborhoods. The way I see it, now is the time to weigh in with our political leaders about what we are about to give up if this challenge goes unmet.

Liz Talley, Ballard resident

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