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Why CoolMom cares about Coal Export

CoolMom agrees with Sierra Club, Climate Solutions and other environmental groups that Coal Export is not in the best interest of our children, families, and our environment.
Why CoolMom cares about Coal Export

photo by Energy Information Administration

A Little Science

Coal Export could tip us over the global warming precipice. Sounds like gloom and doom, but we have the ability to stop this from happening. To understand how coal export affects global warming, a little Science is in order. (skip here, if you already know the science)

Our annual average concentration of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is 391.57 up from 2010 average of 389.78. In the past decade the average annual increase has been 2.07 parts per million per year.

What do these numbers mean? Scientists believe that 350 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere is the safe limit for humanity. As we move further beyond 350 the earth becomes warmer and our global temperature increases, affecting climates, plants and animals, and humans. We're already beginning to see disastrous impacts on people and places all over the world. Glaciers everywhere are melting and disappearing fast—and they are a source of drinking water for hundreds of millions of people. Mosquitoes, who like a warmer world, are spreading into lots of new places, and bringing malaria and dengue fever with them. Drought is becoming much more common, making food harder to grow in many places. Sea levels have begun to rise, and scientists warn that they could go up as much as several meters this century. If that happens, many of the world's cities, island nations, and farmland will be underwater. The oceans are growing more acidic because of the CO2 they are absorbing, which makes it harder for animals like corals and clams to build and maintain their shells and skeletons; and this directly impacts our economy and shell fish farms in the Pacific Northwest. Coral reefs could start dissolving at an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 450-500 ppm. These impacts are combining to exacerbate conflicts and security issues in already resource-strapped regions.(courtesy 350.org)

Makes you want to throw up your hands and say nothing can be done, right!? Don't stop here, there are things you and I can do to make a difference. Including, stopping coal export from Washington State.

Coal Export Terminals and Trains

What does this have to do with Coal Export? Scientists also believe that the majority of the CO2 in the atmosphere comes from human's burning fossil fuels. Coal is one of the fossil fuels that we use to produce energy and with that burning comes a high cost to our health.

Two coal export terminals, Longview and Cherry Point, are planned so far, both in Washington state. They have the potential to dramatically increase the amount of coal shipped to Asia. With these two coal export terminals, coal companies have the potential to export 100 million -and possibly 130 million or more- tons of coal annually. In recent years, the US coal export has only been a few million tons to Asia and just a fraction of that to China. With these two coal export terminals on line, Washington could easily multiply total American coal export to China tenfold.

One of the primary objections to coal export terminals is the spread of coal dust. Exporters store coal in large piles at terminals, and these piles -and subsequent coal trains carrying the coal- produce coal dust carried by the wind where it settles on roads, houses, farms that feed us, school yards and water ways that feed our fish and wildlife and drinking water.

The development of one of the largest coal export facilities on the continent at Cherry Point, would produce each day as many as 18 coal trains (9 loaded and 9 returning) shuttling coal from mines in Montana and Wyoming to Spokane, down through the Columbia River Gorge, then up along the coast, passing through Longview, Tacoma, Seattle, Edmonds, Everett, Mt. Vernon, Bellingham, Ferndale and all points in between. All along these cities, an estimate of up to 500 pounds of coal can be lost in the form of dust from each rail car en route. (Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) railroad studies) This coal dust would be carried to our homes, schools and streets.

Health Costs of Coal Export

Coal dust and diesel exhaust from coal trains and cargo ships would hurt our health and pollute our air and water. The wide ranging health dangers of coal dust include exposure to toxic heavy metals like mercury-which is a serious threat to human health for pregnant women and their unborn babies- and increased rates of asthma, especially in children. Toxic pollution from diesel exhaust can cause serious long-term health problems like lung and heart disease. Coal dust and diesel exhaust from coal trains and cargo ships would hurt our health and pollute our clean air and water. For more health and safety risks due to coal export go to www.powerpastcoal.org

What you can do to help stop Coal Export

Coal companies have deep pockets and a long track record of using their power and influence to get what they want. Peabody Energy, the world’s largest coal company, and Arch Coal are routinely fined for violating worker health and safety and environmental standards. These companies are not good neighbors and will put profit before people to protect their bottom line.

Let us stand up for clean air and water and for healthy kids and communities! Educate yourself about the issue and Take action by:

Speak out by signing a petition urging elected officials to oppose West Coast coal export terminals. Then, share the petition with your friends!

Commissioner Goldmark oversees the Department of Natural Resources, which has the authority to approve or not approve a lease for the proposed pier and wharf combination to service the Gateway Pacific Terminal. The lease is for public aquatic lands owned by you and me–it’s up to…

  • Call Governor Christine Gregroire

Call Governor Christine Gregroire at (360) 902-4111 and ask her to ensure that Washington says NO to coal export and YES to a clean energy future

Thank you for caring about your children's health and the environment! Together we can make great things happen.