I hate to sound like a cynical conspiracy nut, but I believe this debate of "coal trains" is being manipulated. Just this term itself misdirects the conversation away from serious and hard-to-defend issues.
Opposition to this endeavor brings up strong points with regards to the impact on the environment, global warming, public health and on local economies choked off by endless rail cars barreling through small towns across the Northwest. But this is a diversion. Ironically it is the supporter's rallying call of "jobs now" that is one of the strongest arguments against the very core of what is being proposed.
Sending our coal to China is an attempt to sell off our national resources and move even more jobs over to a country that is already breaking the back of American industry. We need this coal! We need the jobs that will be fueled by this coal! Selling off our coal to a country without a concept of minimum wages and environmental or worker protection rules is a knife in the back to the American worker. And for what, a few thousand short-term jobs and a handful after that? No! This is an attempt to sell off of our national inheritance and the ability for us to be self-sufficient.
Follow the money! Reduce the trade gap! Use our resources to build up our own economy, not to fatten the pockets of corporate thieves!