Tuesday, December 11, 2012

When You Go To Seattle, Wear Coal Dust In Your Hair

Child coal miners-1908 (Wikimedia Commons)
Those planning to give verbal comments at Thursday’s public meeting in Seattle on the coal export facility proposed for the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve will get to see a whole different way used to allot the opportunities to speak:

Interested in giving verbal comments on the coal export facility proposed for the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve when public meetings are held Tuesday in Vancouver, WA, and Thursday in Seattle? Take a number to enter random drawings for about 150 two-minute speaking slots at each event.  The drawings will occur at the start of each hour during the three-hour public meetings.  People can enter the drawings at any time before the final drawing. Drawings set for spoken comments at upcoming meetings for proposed Gateway Pacific  

From verbal comments offered at past public meetings, it seems clear that it’s a free country and people can say whatever they want short of shouting “Fire!” However, project supporters hadn’t seemed to get the point of this comment period: the comments are meant to address what things the government agencies should include to be examined in the draft Environmental Impact Statement for this project.

Project supporters are all smart people so I won’t do their work for them but speakers saying ‘jobs jobs jobs’ one after another don’t move the process forward, it just makes it dumb and boring. I’ve been much more impressed by the pre-meeting work done by organizers against the coal project who have held workshops and training sessions on how to make comments that express both a position on the coal project and a substantive issue that needs to be examined in the dEIS. They’ve maintained that discipline in the public meetings thus far, including a firm reminder to participants that the views of opponents should be respected and the differences of opinions not made personal.

Project supporters can do the same, I’m sure.

Before today’s meeting in Vancouver and Thursday’s meeting in Seattle, here are a couple more news items to draw from in providing comments on the coal export proposal:

What is the risk factor of human error or natural disaster in causing a major spill of coal in the loading and transporting process?
A large bulk carrier docking at Westshore Terminals in Roberts Bank destroyed a coal conveyor system early Friday morning, knocking out the largest of the port’s two berths and spilling an undetermined amount of coal into Georgia Strait...  The mishap happened at 1 a.m. when the bulk carrier Cape Apricot, with a capacity of 180,000 tonnes, slammed into a trestle, the only link between the berth and the terminal, destroying more than 100 metres of it. The ship went right through the causeway, taking a road, the coal-carrying conveyor belt, and electric and water lines with it.  Ship crashes into dock at Westshore Terminals, spilling coal into water (with video)

How many more minutes will more coal train traffic block roads?
A Burlington Northern Santa Fe train is no longer blocking three major intersections in Mount Vernon, according to city police. The train blocked several roadways, including Fir Street, College Way and Riverside Drive, for 45 minutes to an hour, said Sgt. Peter Lindberg. The train was moved about 10:45 a.m. “It’s an emergency brake situation,” Lindberg said when the train was stopped. “That’s all we know and (BNSF) is not getting back to us because they are probably busy.” Train in MV no longer blocking roadways  
Like many other cities, Seattle, Edmonds and Marysville are alarmed at the prospect of massive coal trains and their effects on communities. Compounding it all, tracks are already reaching capacity or nearing it. Coal train impacts feared along the Sound 

How much will the coal to be exported from Cherry Point contribute to global warming and sea level rise?
As recovery continues from Superstorm Sandy, the U.S. government reports Thursday that flooding from future storms will likely worsen as global sea levels rise between 8 inches and 6.6 feet by the end of this century. NOAA sees sea level rise of up to 6.6 feet by 2100 

Go get ‘em, tigers.

--Mike Sato

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