City may renew coal train discussion - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

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City may renew coal train discussion

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Posted: Saturday, July 20, 2013 10:00 am

SANDPOINT — The controversial issue of allowing coal trains to pass over Lake Pend Oreiile is set to receive renewed public discussion.

Gary Payton, who represented Idaho in the 50 States United for Healthy Air conference in Washington, D.C., delivered an update about the trip Wednesday for council members. His discussions centered on a planned expansion of the coal industry, which he said would result in 100 million additional tons of coal being shipped in uncovered containers each year over Lake Pend Oreille.

In April of last year, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing coal trains passing through Sandpoint. Payton’s report prompted Councilwoman Carrie Logan to consider discussing a second resolution renewing the city’s opposition.

According to Payton, it’s a gesture well worth considering. He said last year’s resolution spoke volumes when he sat across the table from Sen. Mike Crapo at the 50 States United for Healthy Air event in May. Payton told council members that Crapo was impressed with the unified stance on the issue expressed through the unanimous vote. Conversations just like that took place with many elected officials at the event, which collected ambassadors from every state to advocate for limitations on coal ash, air pollution and carbon pollution.  

Payton said there are several points of concern in allowing coal trains through Sandpoint. First, the shipment via uncovered containers allows dust to blow into the air and the lake, resulting in air and water quality issues. He addedthat the danger of a train derailment into Lake Pend Oreille would be an ecological disaster of nightmarish proportions.

These objections center around plans to expand the coal industry by building new port facilities on the Washington and Oregon coasts, where vast quantities of coal would ship to Asia — primarily China. According to Payton, this would require dozens of additional trains per day, and all would pass through Sandpoint.

Not everyone saw eye to eye with Payton at the meeting. Sandpoint resident Christian Schwab argued that no trains had ever derailed over Lake Pend Oreille in the past and that the coal industry could be a valuable source of jobs.

If the council chooses to pursue a second resolution taking a stand against coal trains, the proposal will likely be discussed at one of next month’s council meetings.

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  • QuickStudy posted at 11:50 am on Fri, Nov 1, 2013.

    QuickStudy Posts: 1

    Well, as soon as those who support activities that carry with it the potential to ruin the environment, pollute the drinking supply, and reduce property values, offer to be personally responsible for fixing the damage no matter the cost, then I will consider such activities. However, given the fact that historically mining companies have done a poor job of fixing problems they cause, I have no faith that they will do so in the future, and I do not believe that those who support such activities will cough up their own money to fix it either. Wilson, are you willing to put your money where your mouth is? Just because volcanos may cause more environmental impact than a coal train does not mean we shouldn't address all substantial causes of pollution that we as humans can control. With you logic, we shouldn't bother addressing any man-made pollution problems, which is ludicrous and irresponsible.

  • wilson posted at 8:58 pm on Wed, Jul 24, 2013.

    wilson Posts: 1076

    I object to my tax dollars being wasted by these pseudo enviros in the council even thinking they can stop the world from going around. Do they not have the big picture? This coal thing is so minute in relation to the world that it is meaningless. We are getting more air pollution from volcanoes going off 24/7 around the world. Put your effort into stopping that, then real progress can be made.

  • Ruby Ridge posted at 10:40 am on Tue, Jul 23, 2013.

    Ruby Ridge Posts: 72

    Better to go with a air quality tax per ton.