Opinion

The point is climate change | Guest op

Dan Streiffert serves as energy committee chair of the Sierra Club’s South King County Group. - Courtesy photo
Dan Streiffert serves as energy committee chair of the Sierra Club’s South King County Group.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

In his June 26 opinion piece, Don Brunell discusses safety issues regarding the transport of energy products, i.e., coal and oil, into Washington.

Yes, safety is an issue; unfortunately Mr. Brunell missed the "elephant in the room" – climate change.

Not once did he mention the most critical issue related to the transport and export of such carbon-intensive products – climate change.

Do we as the most powerful country on Earth want to perpetuate more climate disruption by shipping Montana and Wyoming coal via trains into Washington for transport to China? While we try to convince China that the biggest carbon polluters must take responsibility to solve the greatest problem ever to face humankind, are we going to help them pollute even more? Talk about double standards.

Beside climate change impacts, important reasons for not allowing the transport of such carbon-intensive products are safety of such transport, significant traffic snarls in each city along the way, and the huge costs to jurisdictions and people trying to deal with it.

Mr. Brunell mentions jobs – the standard argument used to get people to accept something they don't want or need, and that would adversely impact them and their children. However, no jobs would be created in South King County. So, we would get all the costs and none of the benefits. Any permanent jobs created anywhere in Washington would be very few, amounting to a drop in the bucket.

The big energy companies and railroad conglomerates would get all the profits, but none of the risks. The local citizens would suffer all of the impacts. It amounts to a selfish money grab by a few at the expense of everyone in South King County.

The whole coal terminal/trains idea has nothing in it for America or the Northwest's energy needs. It's all for Asia and, in fact, would burn American energy in the process of mining and shipping it to its final destination. In effect, this would mirror typical third-world countries whose natural resources are mined, drilled, stripped, and shipped to first-world countries.

The fact that this would grossly impact climate disruption, thus rendering moot our country's own very good steps to slow down the growth of carbon pollution in the earth's atmosphere, makes this whole idea a very dangerous non-starter.

In summary, the transporter of American carbon-intensive energy products to Washington and on to Asia is a plan with no benefit for the public, huge costs to South King County, and an increase in global climate disruption – all for the selfish financial motivations of those proposing it.

This is the ultimate con game, and we're not buying it.

Dan Streiffert serves as energy committee chair of the Sierra Club's South King County Group. To learn more, visit washington.sierraclub.org/southkingcounty/.

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