On April 2 the Sierra Club and other environmental allies sent a notice of intent to sue letter to Burlington Northern-Santa Fe and several coal companies for violations of the federal Clean Water Act, alleging the companies are responsible for emitting coal into waterways across Washington. I'm thankful they are trying to protect us from companies that ship and carry coal on railways, emitting coal and coal dust into our waterways.
The Surface Transportation Board's 2011 decision about BNSF wanting to charge a coal dust tariff to coal shippers shows escaping coal dust is a big problem. The STB said, "to the extent that coal dust poses a risk of harm to the environment, containment is the only way to protect the environment and communities along the right of way. Maintenance only addresses the harm to the ballast and does nothing to address the harms to neighboring streams, people, and communities. Some coal dust removed in the rail bed maintenance process may also find its way back into the environment, either nearby or at disposal sites."
The STB says this needs to be addressed, but has not forced the railroads and coal shippers to do so yet - maybe a lawsuit will.
Write the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, your senators and representatives, and the Council on Environmental Quality to demand that the corps conduct a full area-wide environmental impact statement, or a programmatic environmental impact study for the GPT project.