It would be simple to make a decision about whether or not to support coal trains passing through Lane County en-route to the deep water port at Coos Bay if it were just as easy to forget about hungry kids there.
Coos County has for many years now been a hotbed of kids living in poverty and needing the support of free and reduced lunch program meals at school to not be hungry during the school year. But unlike Lane County, kids there don’t have as strong a level of support during the non-school summer months that FOOD for Lane County provides for kids here through its well-developed summer lunch program. Kids go hungry.
Read the associated story including links to statistics here.
Extreme unemployment levels in the County have caused working parents to either lose that status or be forced into lower paying service jobs as the timber industry died locally.
Reopening the rail link to Coos Bay, which will ultimately generate hundreds or thousands of jobs both in the Bay Area of Oregon and in the transportation hub of Eugene/Springfield, is key to reinvigorating the deep water port. Regular rail shipments will ensure a steady work load for men and women in the region, transporting and loading goods for overseas shipment (thereby helping balance our trade deficit with foreign nations).
I will not stand by idly and let rogue coal dust foul the lungs of our next generation in Lane County. I was born in Sheffield, England–the country’s third largest city–a steel town in the middle of coal country. My Dad was from Newcastle. I have witnessed what coal can do to people’s lungs and lives. I have lived it much more closely than most folks who enjoy our robust and healthy atmosphere in the Pacific Northwest.
That being said, work is being done to mitigate the dusting of coal and to identify the magnitude of the pollution in Lane County. Let’s wait until we find out more about the details before we pull the plug permanently on better jobs. And if the details show imminent and long-term serious health threats we should do all we can to prevent that. I am pleased that the Council voted to delay the decision to pass Resolution 5065 last Monday and allow for a Council work session to discuss it.
Now the Eugene City Council should allow for the standard public process that is typical of decision making in this city and provide a public hearing and a broad based input process before making any decision that would give the City Manager walking orders that would erase any possibility of safe shipment of coal.