environmental impacts

Exporting pollution abroad means more environmental problems here at home, including contamination of our local air and waterway. If even one of these proposed terminals went forward, shorelines would be given over to industrial sites with enormous piles of coal and constant noise and coal dust. To build the terminals, the companies would degrade wetlands, impacting marine ecosystems on which herring, salmon, orcas and fish depend. There are significant costs in the lifecycle of coal, as documented by Harvard ProfessorPaul R. Epstein, M.D., M.P.H., Center for Health and the Global Environment, in the study Full Cost for Accounting for the Lifecycle of Coal: “Each stage in the life cycle of coal—extraction, transport, processing, and combustion—generates a waste stream and carries multiple hazards for health and the environment. These costs are external to the coal industry and are thus often considered ‘externalities.’ We estimate that the life cycle effects of coal and the waste stream generated are costing the U.S. public a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars annually.” Coal is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel. Coal power plants emit at least 1.6 tons of climate changing gases for every ton of coal burned. A single large plant can emit upwards of 10 million tons of climate pollution a year. There would also be significant environmental impact abroad. As the world’s largest coal user, China produces at least 375 million tons of toxic coal ash annually or enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool every two and a half minutes. Coal ash disposal sites release lead, boron, selenium, cadmium, thallium and other pollutants – posing a serious risk to the health of those living nearby. And the air pollution doesn’t stay near to home – more coal burning in China means more toxic air pollution traveling across the Pacific to contaminate our Northwest rivers, lakes and fish, including mercury and ozone pollution.

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