Columbia Riverkeeper is closely monitoring rail lines and other infrastructure that could support coal export. Riverkeeper supports many rail improvements, but clogging rails with coal trains is the wrong way to go. Near the confluence of the Cowlitz and Columbia Rivers, BNSF Railways seeks a wetland fill permit to expand its rail yard and increase train access into Longview, including the location of the proposed Millennium coal terminal. It’s no secret that coal export would require extensive rail expansion, similar to the changes BNSF is proposing, along the Columbia River and across the West. What’s more, these projects will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, with the potential for taxpayers to be stuck picking up the tab.
Due to the widespread opposition to coal export, we are asking state and federal agencies to analyze whether rail expansion projects are caused by or benefit coal export. Riverkeeper’s comments on BNSF’s permit application ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fully evaluate and explain whether BNSF’s rail expansion project will benefit coal export. If so, the Corps must look at the railway expansion not as an isolated project, but as part of the suite of local and global impacts of coal export. Riverkeeper’s Clean Water Attorney, Miles Johnson, prepared these comments. Read Riverkeeper’s comments here.
Rail plays a critical role in transporting passengers, wheat, timber, and other products through the Pacific Northwest. The pall of coal trains, however, threatens our existing rail system.
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