Our Voice: Make yourself heard on coal train proposal

Public participation is an important part of our decision-making process, that's why we encouraged a Tri-City venue to gather comments on the new coal train proposal.

A public hearing on the proposed coal trains coming through our community and state will be held Oct. 1 in Pasco.

The Herald editorial board recommended that a public hearing in the Tri-Cities be a part of the decision process. So we applaud that one is scheduled.

We also already are on record for lending support to the coal trains. Here's why.

The coal trains will bring jobs to the state now and in the future. The proposed terminal will ship coal to Asia, providing jobs in the construction and shipping phases.

The economic impact helps the state as a whole.

It also helps the Mid-Columbia directly.

By signing this contract, the railroad is agreeing to improved rail infrastructure in ways that will expand our trade routes to Asia for generations to come. Our robust agricultural community is dependent on being able to get commodities to customers.

There also are some downsides to consider.

For example, this will put more trains through our towns. The traffic and safety issues must be addressed here and on the west side of the state.

The biggest opposition to the project, however, comes from the environmental community.

The state's environmental impact study is taking a look at the "end-use" impacts, meaning somehow Washington state thinks it has jurisdiction over what happens in China.

That is a broad reach. And absurd.

China needs energy. It has chosen coal as a means to meet that need. If the Chinese obtain that coal by bringing it through Washington, we benefit from the process. If not, they will get it some other way. Our gain in that scenario is zero.

Refusing to allow the coal to come through our ports would be shortsighted.

It's an incredibly arrogant, yet ignorant, concept.

Not to give the Department of Ecology any ideas, but automobiles from Japan are imported through Washington's ports. Cars are known greenhouse gas contributors. Does it make sense for the state to combat global warming by diverting those cars to out-of-state ports?

Or cows.

Cows produce methane gas. They are blasting holes in the ozone, if you will, but we still eat beef at home and abroad. Sometimes we even have a glass of milk or a chunk of cheese.

It is possible, we suppose, that cows and cars are the next targets. But it doesn't make sense. Neither does an EIS that covers the "end-use" of coal.

But that's our opinion.

You are encouraged to research the issue and come to your own conclusions.

Submit comments online at www.millenniumbulkeiswa.gov or you can attend the hearing from 5 to 8 p.m. at Pasco's Red Lion on Oct. 1.