The debate over exporting Wyoming and Montana coal through terminals on the Northwest coast has been heating up in recent months. Those who support exporting coal say the terminals will create thousands of jobs and tax revenue for the state. Opponents have raised concerns about the potential environmental and health impacts of coal. Now, some of them are taking matters into their own hands.
Environmental reporter Ashley Ahearn has been covering the different sides of the coal debate over the last year and today on The Conversation we want to hear what you think. Ross Reynolds sits down with Ashley Ahearn to parse out the arguments for and against the proposed coal terminals in Washington, and takes listener calls.
There are five proposed coal export terminals under consideration in Washington and Oregon. They would be built to transfer coal off of trains from Wyoming and Montana mines and on to ships bound for Asia. Some coal dust will escape along the journey from mines to terminals. In the second part of our series, Ashley Ahearn looks at the environmental impacts of coal dust.
The Westshore Terminal near Vancouver, B.C. handles about 30 million tons of coal per year, loading it onto ships for export. Westshore spent $7 million upgrading pumps, rain guns and misting devices around the site used to dampen and control coal dust.
With five coal export terminals under consideration in Washington and Oregon, Northwest residents are grappling for the first time with issues that are old hat in coal states like West Virginia and Kentucky. One of those issues: coal dust. How much of it will escape along the journey from mines in Wyoming and Montana to proposed export terminals on the West Coast? And what might that dust mean for public health?