Rail Company Scraps Plans For Pacific Northwest Coal Export Terminal
August 14, 2012
On August 14, 2012, RailAmerica announced it was scrapping plans to develop a coal export facility at the Port of Grays Harbor in Washington due to widespread environmental opposition and interest in shipping another commodity that might come to fruition sooner than the proposed coal export terminal. RailAmerica, which is in the process of being acquired by Genesee and Wyoming, had planned to transport 5 million tons of Powder River Basin coal each year by rail into the port for export to Asia.
“It’s an indicator that these companies are questioning the wisdom of exporting coal through the Pacific Northwest,” said Cesia Kearns, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s Coal Exports Campaign. “It’s going to continue to be an uphill battle.”
Since its inception, the project had received criticism from neighboring communities around the port and along the rail route. Various environmental groups like the Sierra Club held town hall meetings in opposition of the project due to the potential for coal dust and diesel pollution to disturb the air and waterways, and increased rail traffic in communities along the rail line that could significantly slow down emergency response times. Opponents of the export facility further pointed to the risky nature of international commodity markets and the continuing fall of coal prices in Asia as reasons to pursue other, more sustainable industries. Taking those factors into account, RailAmerica decided to pull the plug and look for other terminal 3 development opportunities that will generate local jobs and tax revenue.
Kearns continued, “We commend RailAmerica’s decision to turn its back on dangerous coal exports, and we're hopeful that this choice will lead to investment in more healthy and sustainable port development. We’re very invigorated by this announcement, but we know that there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure the other five proposals are stopped in their tracks. With Ambre Energy’s recent financial trouble in coal development, and RailAmerica’s decision to pull away from coal, all the signs are showing that the coal industry is a house of cards—it’s only a matter of time until the other five proposals topple.”
Stopping the export terminal is a victory for the health of all communities located along the port, railways, and coal mines, and is a crucial step towards to cleaner and safer future.
Details and Documents:
August 14, 2012, By Angelo Bruscas of the Daily World
August 14, 2012 from Seattle PI
August 15, 2012, By Mario Parker of Bloomberg