Inconsistent comparisons are popular in advertising, where products are falsely promoted by cherry-picking favorable associations while leaving out complex realities. Here is a case in point from an email from the Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports in which they write:
"Four out of 10 people in Washington State rely on trade for their living. Trade is our heritage, and we need to take this opportunity to make sure the federal and state agencies know we support the construction of the Gateway Pacific Terminal and expanding our export capabilities."
But GPT's application shows that in its first major stage GPT would export nothing but Powder River Basin coal from Montana and Wyoming. It is possible, they say, that if market conditions warrant, GPT might expand to export Canadian potash and BP's byproduct, calcined coke. Nowhere is there a discussion of Washington's most important exports.
In Washington, aerospace and transportation dominate exports, with agricultural products and processed foods ranked second. These sectors trade products designed, manufactured and produced in Washington.
According to the Washington State Farm Bureau, "Washington is the second-largest exporter of fruits and vegetables in the nation [and] fourth largest exporter of wheat..." We are fifth in "oilseeds, essential oils, beverages other than juice, nursery and greenhouse, wine" and more. We are also the nation's second-largest exporter of fish and shellfish.
The train routes that would carry the coal from the Powder River Basin to GPT cut through our state's most productive farmlands, where environmentally sensitive products such as mint, berries and stone fruits are grown. And transportation and export of coal is directly linked to air, water and soil pollution.
Reputation matters. The Capital Press reported this spring that the world looks to the U.S. for healthy and safe food and that Washington has a reputation for safe, quality food exports, making our products in high demand around the globe.
If the Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports truly cares about Washington's exports, why introduce known and expected pollution to our air, water and soils, with very real costs to our existing natural resource industries and trade heritage?
From seismic and noise effects of rail traffic on dairy production and reproduction to the impact of diesel particulates and coal runoff on our state's standing in the berry and fruit markets, nothing about the proposed coal terminal is consistent with Washington's export heritage.
Nicole Brown is a mom and farms near Acme.