On October 22 the Eugene City Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution which would “signal the City of Eugene’s opposition to the transport of coal by train through the city for export via the Port of Coos Bay.” See a related Forum Lane article here: “Eugene City Council considers a blunderbuss approach to economy and employment in Coos County.” There will be a discussion by a “panel of experts” at tonight’s 5:30 City Council meeting.
A host of elected officials and concerned citizens oppose such a resolution, including Senator Joanne Verger, (D-Coos Bay), House Co-Speaker Representative Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay) and many more.
In fact, Congressman Peter DeFazio supports the train–see Forum Lane article “Congressman Peter DeFazio has no objections to coal port in Coos Bay.” The article contains newspaper links.
While opposition to the coal train and the associated rail line and deep water port have been vigorous, the main objections seem to be in three general areas:
1. Coal trains “up to two miles long” and, “as many as ten a day” will block road intersections in Eugene for hours.
2. Coal dust filtering from the train will create a film of residue the route of the train. ” An estimated pound of coal dust per car per mile…is lost to the wind.” Gillette, Wyoming to Coos Bay is 1069 miles. If trains have only 100 cars and there are, lets say, five per day, that would equal 534,500 pounds of coal per day “lost to the wind.” That’s a half million pounds of profit. Per day. Hmm.
3. Global warming. Burning coal in Asia is a major contributor to the greenhouse gases that cause climate change.
For balance I will provide three general arguments that support running the trains to Coos Bay:
1. Private money from the companies operating the trains will provide new infrastructure in Western Oregon, including funding the renovation of the Coos Bay Rail Link and the deep water port in North Bend/Coos Bay.
2. Building the infrastructure and the busy dock will provide both long- and medium-term, high paying jobs in Lane, Coos and other Oregon counties.
3. Unemployment has caused a sharp rise in poverty levels in the Bay Area–schools there show a disproportionate high percentage of kids needing free and reduced rate lunches (kids are going hungry). See Forum Lane, “If it were easy to forget about hungry kids…”
All of these questions need to be addressed. The panel discussion tonight should provide answers. I will report on my findings, based upon expert testimony, after the panel discussion.