The Leadership Alliance Against Coal, made up of local government and tribal leaders in the Pacific Northwest, said April 22 that it will work together to raise awareness about the alleged damaging economic, cultural, and health impacts of coal trains and coal exports, as well as take action to protect their communities.
“These coal trains threaten the health of our communities, the strength of our economies, and the environmental and cultural heritage we share,” said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. “We will stand together to stop the coal trains.”
“For thousands of years Washington State tribes have fought to protect all that is important for those who call this great state home. We can no longer allow industry and business to pollute our water and land; we as leaders need to protect our treaty resources, our economies, and the human health of our citizens and neighbors,” said Brian Cladoosby, Chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.
The Leadership Alliance Against Coal grew out of conversations between leaders from cities and tribal nations in the Northwest that are concerned about the impact of coal trains on their communities. Alliance members are calling for agencies to work together to explore the impacts on the health of people living near the rail tracks and the coal terminals. They urge state and federal agencies to deny permits for coal export proposals, as their proposed benefits do not outweigh the likely costs to local economies, health, natural environment, and cultural resources.
The city of Seattle conducted a study that found coal trains could add an additional two hours of gate downtime at major street crossings of the railway by 2025. Similar delays are likely in cities large and small along the proposed route of these trains.
Tribes are concerned that coal trains and several proposed coal export terminals in Oregon and Washington would violate their treaty rights and damage their cultural heritage, as well as cause economic and health impacts. About a half doezen such terminal projects, backed by coal producers like Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) and Arch Coal (NYSE: ACI), have sprung up in the last couple of years in response to growing demand, particularly for Powder River Basin coal, from coal-fired power plants being built around the Pacific Rim.