Wednesday, November 28, 2012


my input to the scoping process........

Rail Infrastructure
I am very concerned about the effect on Amtrak passenger service of the increased number of trains using our rail infrastructure if GPT starts shipping coal and using our rail infrastructure to get increasing amounts of coal from Wyoming and Montana. I have had the pleasure of using Amtrak to travel from my home in Ferndale, Wa. This is especially true in the winter, when travel may not otherwise be possible for me. It is my understanding that freight has precedence over passenger rail traffic.  We pulled over in “the middle of nowhere” a few times to wait for rail freight to pass.   I can't imagine what the trip south from Bellingham will be like with the increased freight.
I would also imagine our infrastructure would have to be improved to accommodate the increased load.  It is my understanding that the railroad is only responsible for 5% of this cost and we the people are going to get the bill for the rest.  I am very concerned that the increased, extremely heavy coal traffic would put a lot of stress on our rail infrastructure.  Who will pay for upgrades and repairs? I hope the scoping attention will be very seriously focused on all aspects of rail use and especially the increased load that the increased coal shipping would have on our rail infrastructure. I am very concerned there will be no passenger rail if our infrastructure is dominated by this increased freight.
I would like to know that Amtrak service will continue and, as it becomes more important to me in my senior years, it would be my hope that our rail infrastructure would serve we the people in that way.
As a resident of Ferndale and Whatcom County, I am very concerned about the increased diesel particulate in my atmosphere with the increased rail traffic, very large loading and unloading machines and giant ships in the harbor 24/7.  It is my understanding that ships are fueled by bunker oil, which is a very heavy substance left over after other fuels have been distilled from crude oil.  It has high sulfur content and causes serious air quality concerns when burned as fuel.  It is also speeding the devastating acidification of our oceans. The increase of dangerous particulate, very small in size, from regular diesel and the even dirtier bunker oil will go deep into the lungs of all, causing serious increased health issues. As a mother and grandmother of humans living in the wake of this pollution, I am very concerned about the health risks and degraded environment. Please put a serious amount of scoping attention on the extremely dirty bunker fuel used by the giant deepwater shipping vessel and all the increased diesel used from the coal extraction to it's destination in China.
Overall Irresponsibility
I live in Ferndale Washington. I am very close to the proposed coal shipping terminal and rail path and I am concerned about being a conduit to this irresponsible project. We are long past peak atmosphere and it's time to take the effects of this fossil fuel orgy we have been on seriously. From the barbaric extraction of coal from a river basin and all the environmental damage there, to the impacts along the rail transport, to the diesel and bunker diesel particulate burned into our atmosphere, to the 80 acres coal pile waiting to be loaded on giant deep water ships and ultimately burned in China this is a shameful legacy to those who come after. Coal, as a form of energy production, should go the way of whale oil, if we value the lives of our descendents.

I have also written specifically about the huge increase in diesel particulates degrading our already endangered oceans and atmosphere and the affects on our rail infrastructure, but I think the big picture overall devastating consequences should stop us from considering this insanity.

I hope all the externalities, especially the degradation of our land, air and water, will be given the highest level of attention and not just swept under the rug and put on our descendants credit cards.
At the very least, we should be compensated. If the pipeline is to go through our state, shouldn’t the citizens be paid annually, much like the citizens of Alaska are paid to have the pipeline pass through their state? Arguably, the impact of rail conveyance of millions of tons of coal annually would be much more invasive than the pipeline.

To even be considering this use of the earth's finite resources is the height of irresponsibility and greed. We can and should do so much better if we care about out descendants future.

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