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Dec 16, 2012 doesurmindglow commented on Roughly 3,500 People Crowd Convention Center to Shout About Coal.
I think the core argument is "they're gonna do what they're gonna do anyway." It's like the landowners in Texas that had their property rights revoked so a corporation could build its oil pipeline.

The argument that "they're gonna do what they wanna do anyway, so you're just making yourself feel better" is so hopeless and stupid, and I just don't buy it. Maybe they will do what they want to do anyway. But that doesn't suddenly mean it's okay, and it definitely doesn't mean that we should sit by and be okay with it.

If nothing we do -- say, banning plastic bags -- actually makes any difference, then why fight it? If the coal can go to Canada anyway, why not just go there? If China is just going to get coal from somewhere else, then why not get it there? Something about this doesn't pass the smell test.
Dec 15, 2012 doesurmindglow commented on Roughly 3,500 People Crowd Convention Center to Shout About Coal.
@46: I actually think dust emissions from trains are more likely in some areas -- such as the Gorge, which experiences high winds on a regular basis -- than others. But in either case, I don't think visual observation of the dust (or lack thereof) should be considered sufficient to conclude it doesn't require study. And the fact there is visual observation in some places definitely suggests a need for study.

Again, I'm perfectly willing to accept the conclusion it's a minor issue, and I'll agree it doesn't particularly motivate me personally to oppose coal trains. I'd just like to have a scientific review before we make that conclusion, which luckily our SEPA process does provide for. I think it's actually much more likely the more serious problem is diesel emissions, which present a number of well-documented health concerns. It's only responsible that both should have thorough review before we decide to significantly increase the traffic.

All that being said, I don't agree any victory would be merely symbolic. Blocking a port in Bellingham would alleviate many of the local environmental concerns (ie. the risk of increased diesel pollution and the damage to the marine environment at the terminal site). It's possible they'll just build a port somewhere else, but it is likely to be smaller and at greater expense -- there simply aren't that many undeveloped deepwater port facilities available. The Bellingham port is already much more expensive to site and build than simply providing coal export capacity in Tacoma, Seattle, and Vancouver, all of whom have rejected coal exports long before this fight began.

That means there's less coal available to burn, and what is available is more expensive, which is a victory quantifiable in terms of energy economics. Just slowing exports down also is also likely to have strategic value, from a climate perspective: it allows more time for the rapid advancement of conservation and renewable technologies to continue and the emergence of an environmental movement in China to overcome government resistance, and, probably most importantly to U.S. taxpayers, more time to move legislation for the government price the coal it's selling at market va….

So in short, there is real environmental value to blocking a coal port, because the location of the port itself is an environmental problem to its local environment. But beyond that, blocking it is likely to affect the economics, even if the coal does get to Asia somehow else.
Dec 15, 2012 doesurmindglow commented on Roughly 3,500 People Crowd Convention Center to Shout About Coal.
@44: I mean, I oppose the trains mainly for climate change, fishing industry and diesel pollution reasons, so I'll freely admit the "coal train dust problem" is a relatively minor concern to me. I too think there are other, better reasons for opposing the trains, and those reasons are in fact MY reasons. Even if we could eliminate coal dust emissions 100%, which we can't, I know I wouldn't be okay with coal trains.

While acknowledging that, I also think it's completely ridiculous to pretend there is NO coal dust problem, or to jump to the conclusion that it must be negligible, without adequate scientific review. I'm afraid you're making this leap to negligibility with very little evidence. There is evidence of a coal dust issue -- the railroad estimates it loses something like 1-3% of its load to dust emissions in transit. Is it significant? Could it hurt people? I don't know. Let's study it.

Those emissions are pretty clearly what's pictured in the photo. But it now seems that you'll dispute whatever photo evidence of this problem exists, so there's really no point in going any further with this. I'll concede for now that your anecdotal account is probably superior to any observations of anyone else, ever, documented or otherwise. I'm not interested in arguing with someone who has no interest in seriously exploring the evidence that's out there, as I personally care about coal dust very little, especially from trains.

So with that said, I'm not saying it's the biggest problem. I am saying they should be required to study it. Especially at the port, which in the case of the Westshore terminal in BC, emits something like 700 tons of coal dust per year. And THEN we have the recent accident -- and surely you'll agree more traffic would mean more accidents, as that's just reality. More opportunities for accidents usually mean more accidents.

Last time I checked, Seattle is on Puget Sound, as would be the port, and has a sizable fishing industry dependent on the ecological health of that sound. I don't at all believe we could disregard marine pollution and accidents at the port as something that "will not affect Seattle and therefore off topic," again with no scientific review. They're both in the same marine environment.
Dec 14, 2012 doesurmindglow commented on Roughly 3,500 People Crowd Convention Center to Shout About Coal.
@6: For sure. And the working class stiff who feeds his family by fishing for and canning salmon is just outta luck, right? His kids should starve, after all, because preserving his livelihood might have the unintended consequence of pleasing a few "yuppie liberals."

God knows we can't have that.

Fucking hypocrite.
Dec 14, 2012 doesurmindglow commented on Oh, Hey, Look at This Colossal Asshole.
Dec 14, 2012 doesurmindglow commented on Roughly 3,500 People Crowd Convention Center to Shout About Coal.
For the record, here's some coal dust blowing off the trains well after 1000 miles, in the Gorge:…

And here's some more blowing off a terminal far, far beyond the mines, in BC:…

Here's some more going in the water just last week in BC, after a single-hulled carrier plowed through the trestle that loads the coal onto the ships:…

So now that we put that to rest, let's move onto the fact that the proposed terminal more than triples the amount of coal train traffic. Even if you believe coal trains we have aren't a problem now (which I'd argue they very much are), tripling their volume is more than enough to make them a problem.

At the very least we need the agencies in charge here to STUDY THIS, which is most of what the people who spoke were demanding yesterday. Even if you agreed with building coal terminals and so on, you shouldn't have a problem with taking a good look at what the impacts would be.
Aug 1, 2012 doesurmindglow commented on Runaway Train.
I agree with the sentiments of this article, without a doubt, but I must offer a correction on a slight factual error: the City of Bellingham is not a permitting authority for the Cherry Point project. If they were, the project would likely be history already.

The Cherry Point project is located in unincorporated Whatcom County, so it's the Whatcom County Council that holds the permitting authority. They too appear hesitant to let the thing proceed, but they're a predictably less environmentally-friendly bunch than the City of Bellingham.
Jan 13, 2012 doesurmindglow commented on Senate Vote Count on Marriage Equality.
My Senator, Doug Ericksen, is counted among the NOs here, though the local paper seems to suggest he's actually undecided:…

Any advice on how we might move him over to the good guys? He's a Republican, but of the more libertarian breed, so I don't think it'd be totally impossible. He also might listen to constituents.
Oct 12, 2011 doesurmindglow commented on The Medium Is the Message.
Let's remember that the effort to suggest that Occupy "doesn't have a clear message" is a PR campaign waged by PR professionals.

If you even engage this issue, we (the 99%) lose. It's designed to draw protesters and those who agree with them into an argument about process and off of the main point, which is: the 99% in this country have given bailout after bailout to the 1%, and continue to be left behind. It's time to come together, occupy our public space, and work to fix our nation's problems.

Do not engage the argument that Occupy's message is unclear. Ignore it. Let the message speak for itself about its clarity.
Oct 12, 2011 doesurmindglow commented on Alleged Squirt-Gun-Firing Protester Charged.
@5: If he chooses to fight it, it's probably going to be pretty hard to convict him. I mean the facts of the case alone are suspect.

This is literally the state's case: "a squirtgun posed a threat of bodily harm."

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to find to acquit on that one.