Growing up in West Virginia, I witnessed the coal industry's destruction of mountain communities and was shocked to learn of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal. Despite environmental regulations, 1.4 million acres of the Appalachian Mountain range have been legally destroyed by GPT-affiliated companies and others. Sadly, contrary to touted economic benefits, coal communities are treated no better than the land, suffering above-average rates of poverty, cancer, birth defects and cardiorespiratory disease.
Mining in West Virginia may seem far removed from the proposed GPT, but these are the same powerful corporations with I believe the same profit-driven interests and lack of concern for the environment and public health. Environmental impact studies have failed the people of Appalachia in ways we cannot afford to repeat.
Our essential power as citizens lies in our participation in the scoping process. We have until Jan. 21. Need we align ourselves with corporations who warn economic salvation is inevitably linked with strip mining and abetting the shipment of the dirtiest fuel on the planet to Asian markets 10,000 miles away? Or will we build upon the unity created by this process, pooling our collective intellect, talents, and dreams, to realize something better. Something that offers sustained economic prosperity while protecting the land and people we hold most dear. The choice is ours: EISGatewayPacificWA.gov/get-involved/comment.