The coal trains rumbling through North Idaho pose a threat both to our safety and environment. Since the U.S. is using less coal and more clean energy, this coal is bound for Asia — through shipping terminals on the West Coast — where it is polluting cities like Beijing in China.
These coal trains, which roll through our towns (Sandpoint is a hub for both BNSF railroad lines), our backyards, near our schools and over our pristine lake, already are closing railroad crossings to traffic and delaying emergency responders access to our communities. If the three additional coal terminals proposed in Washington and Oregon are built, North Idaho would see up to 40 additional coal trains each day.
These cars can lose up to 500 pounds of coal dust per car per trip that contaminates our water with heavy metals, including arsenic and mercury. Coal dust causes bronchitis, emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis.
What do we get in return for this coal train access? Absolutely nothing. What can we do? Contact Idaho’s congressional delegation to push for tougher railroad regulations and to oppose building new coal terminals on the West Coast.
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James W. Ramsey, Sandpoint