Huffington Post, April 9, 2013
By Carol Pierson
A retired nurse friend related a story last week told to her by the young waitress at the Vol Du Vent restaurant in the picturesque beach town of White Rock, British Columbia. As the waitress was serving lunch, a train filled with coal passed between the restaurant and Semiahmoo Bay. After her view cleared and the noise had abated, my friend mentioned her fear of the coal ports proposed for five Pacific Northwest sites and the harm to health the coal dust would inflict.
The waitress claimed empty cars were the worst offenders. Her house is covered with dust that is not tamped by the surfactant sprayed on full coal loads. Black soot enters through her windows to rest on blinds and furniture. Colors in her early spring flowerbed are greyed. She was too young to think about health impacts, but her images were heartbreaking.
The next day, still recovering from my friend’s apocalyptic vision and its implications for proposed coal ports near me in Washington State, I stopped everything to read the Sightline Weekly Newsletter headlined “Coal Exports: Two Weeks of Good News.”
I wasn’t disappointed.
Sightline has been investigating Pacific Northwest coal ports permitting since the beginning and has an exhaustive blog series on the subject. The series often chronicles the bad news, including the dispiriting number of strategy and PR firms under contract with coal companies and law firms with deep ties to the industry.
So what’s the good news? Small actions really do add up, and it looks like the coal ports issue may have reached a tipping point. As Sightline‘s Program Director Clark Williams-Derry says, “When you string together all the new developments, there are more and more signs that coal export proposals are on the ropes.”