Photo Credit: Daniel Dancer

Communities in and along rail lines, including The Dalles, Hood River, Portland, Salem and Eugene could see several 1.5 mile-long coal trains rolling through town every day. A terminal handling just 10 million tons of coal each would add more than 700 noisy mile-long coal trains traveling through Oregon’s rail system every year.

A single slow-moving coal train can obstruct a rail crossing by six minutes or more. Increased traffic delays at busy rail crossings would clog commuter traffic and could slow response times for emergency responders.

Added coal train traffic along Oregon’s rail line would limit access to neighborhoods, schools, business corridors and ferry terminals close to the train tracks. This could drive away investors for new residential, retail and commercial developments in waterfront communities in Oregon.

Coal Train Emissions and Dust: Diesel exhaust and coal dust from coal trains can cause serious long-term health problems like lung and heart disease and cancer. Diesel exhaust is associated with asthma, cardiopulmary disease and increase incidences of cancer.

Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) railroad studies estimate at least 500 pounds of coal can be lost in the form of dust from each rail car en route. The wide ranging health dangers of coal dust include exposure to toxic heavy metals like mercury and increased rates of asthma, especially in children. Coal dust and diesel exhaust from coal trains can cause serious long-term health problems like lung and heart disease and cancer. Coal dust would pollute our clean air and water.

Toxic fish: Mercury and other pollutants from coal-burning power plants travel from Asia to the West Coast of North America where they poison our air, water, fish and food supply.

To feed both Washington and Oregon terminals, trains would be travelling through the Columbia Gorge, impacting communities and spewing dirty and dangerous coal dust throughout the windy corridor. Close to the terminals, shorelines would be given over to industrial sites with enormous piles of coal and constant dust.

The companies would ship the coal on massive cargo ships. This would mean ongoing threats to wetlands, waterways and wildlife from potential ship collisions.

Exporting coal promotes deeper global fossil fuel dependence. It delays the urgently needed transition to cleaner alternatives. It makes climate disruption inevitable, including extreme flooding and ocean acidification, impacting our shorelines and waterways.

Major public ports, such as the Ports of Vancouver and Portland have rejected coal export. The proposed sites have potential for hundreds of jobs in light industrial and smart-tech growth instead of being mired in a single-commodity, unpredictable dirty export trade. Increased coal train traffic could lower property values along the rail lines and would create congestion for critical business corridors.