City joins opposition to coal export terminal project
SNOHOMISH - The city is joining a number of other cities in Snohomish County to voice their concerns about the proposed coal export Pacific Gateway Terminal project.
The City Council agreed last week to send a letter about Snohomish’s concerns with the project to state and federal officials.
A Seattle company wants to build a $500 million coal export terminal at Cherry Point near the city of Bellingham. The project would send 18 coal trains a day from Wyoming and Montana through Snohomish County to Cherry Point. Snohomish County cities including Marysville, Everett, Edmonds and Mukilteo have in various ways raised concerns about the project’s impact on each of their cities.
Marysville, for example, has a number of at-grade crossings and is concerned the trains will back up traffic through town. Mukilteo and Edmonds, in addition to other concerns, are concerned about the trains’ impacts on their waterfronts.
Snohomish’s letter, signed by Mayor Karen Guzak, primarily focuses on environmental concerns and the impacts of supporting the coal industry.
“Approval of these projects … will impose additional serious impacts and deleterious impacts on the nation, and more particularly, local communities,” the letter reads. “Some of these impacts, for example, include an increase in greenhouse gas emissions that will further exacerbate climate change and destructive weather events on communities. Nationwide, (climate change) will raise ocean levels through the melting of sea ice, placing coastal communities in greater danger during hurricanes and storm events; and increase ocean acidification, thereby degrading water quality and our ability to maintain a sustainable U.S. fishing and recreation industry.”
Councilman Tom Hamilton, who was in support of the letter, said he’s happy to stand in solidarity with fellow cities in the region against the Pacific Gateway Terminal project. To read about the project, visit the state Department of Ecology’s website, one of several agencies currently reviewing the project.
“This coal (that would be shipped through Snohomish County) goes to Asia,” Hamilton said. “Our pristine lakes already have acid rain in them from Asia, and this just brings it back to us.”
The letter goes on to note impacts on the economic livelihood and efficiency of local public services brought about by the increased coal train traffic, especially in Marysville which has 11 at-grade railroad crossings.
“Vehicular delays will increase, decreasing freight truck mobility and productivity and increasing costs to consumers … and emergency response services will suffer, making more problematic first responders’ ability to save lives, particularly when seconds count,” the letter reads.
The letter calls for mitigation measures to be taken to help offset the impact of the coal trains should the project ultimately be approved. Those measures are not specified in the letter.
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