A train leaves Spokane, Wash., a funnel for rail traffic to the Pacific Coast.
Energy firms want to move more raw materials through the region.
Photo credit: Rajah Bose for The New York Times.
Last Thursday, I purchased the International Herald Tribune (IHT) in Europe, the USA English-language newspaper available overseas, from where I saw this headline about the Pacific Northwest and a story covered previously on this blog that could affect our area:
“With Proposed Rail Expansion, Northwest Confronts Its Clean Image”
“The Pacific Northwests sense of itself can sometimes seem green to the point of parody: a medium-roast blend of piney peaks and urban cool, populated by residents who look descended from lumberjacks or fishermen.
Now, plans by the energy industry to move increasing amounts of coal and oil through the region by rail, bound for Asia, are pulling at all the threads of that self-portrait.”
“‘The proposals do violence to many Northwesterners concept of their place and what it stands for,’ Alan Durning, the founder and executive director of the Sightline Institute, an environmental research group in Seattle, said in an e-mail.
Environmental groups led by the Sierra Club have filed a federal lawsuit accusing the BNSF Railway, which dominates the freight system, of violating the federal Clean Water Act by letting coal spill into waterways from its tracks. The State of Washington, in assessing the permit application of a proposed coal terminal near Bellingham, said in July that it would take a macro-environmental approach, looking at impacts of the project along the entire length of the coal transit route, including the burning of the coal in China
[Air pollution from China reaching the Pacific Northwest & trains could pass through Rainier] ,” quoting Kirk Johnson in the IHT from The New York Times.