Mayor McGinn Continues to Pressure the Port of Seattle on Coal Trains


I'm not from Seattle and not very familiar with the coal train issue except for what's been reported in The Stranger but it seems like the 2 issues are coal dust and delays at crossings, is that accurate?

I don't know what to do about delays but couldn't they just pull a tarp over the cars to contain the dust?
Cities whining are going to accomplish nothing, especially since railroads have precedence over pretty much everything that was conditional to their construction a million years ago.

carbon credits are cute, but we need a serious export tariff on coal if our goal is to lower pollution. otherwise we should just build new coal plants with scrubbers that can efficiently scrape out particles and CO2 and burn that crap here.

I bet a resolution would come faster if the city decided to build a modern coal plant in Yakima instead of a stupid stadium. public bond authority used for common good? F that we don't have enough luxury boxes in our arena for the NBA to make real cash so lets spend millions to get them.
The war on coal continues from the White House on down. Meanwhile, rural workers lose their jobs.
Meanwhile kids near the train tracks will develop respiratory ailments, just so China can get more coal.

Glad to hear how much you love your Chinese masters, @3.
Yeah, I second what @1 said. Can they just put lids on them?
@5: Eli is one of The Stranger's better reporters. You'd think he would have done a little digging to answer this most obvious question.
Just out of curiosity, what would happen if you stood on an overpass and used a slingshot to fire glowing hot charcoal lumps into these open-top coal cars? Would they catch fire and burn? What other forms of sabotage can you think of? These trains must not be allowed to pass.

@1, @5, @6: of course they CAN, but they won't. They're not interested. Costs too much. And as far as they're concerned, it doesn't matter what we think about it, because we have no jurisdiction. The trains take priority over everything, including democracy.
@3, there is a war on coal alright, it's called fracking. Those miners in West Virginia are losing their jobs because of market forces favoring natural gas by wide margin.

Given your handle, I'm surprised you're not applauding the invisible hand at work.
I forgot that McGinn was still mayor of Seattle. Wake me up when we finally have a mayor that has true balls..
If we don't want the trains running through the city, can't we just reroute them around or under the city? What if--and I'm just brainstorming here--we dig a tunnel of unprecedented size under the city and put the coal trains through that? To recuperate the cost of digging the tunnel, we can charge the trains some kind of fee for using it.
@10, tunneling for trains is extremely effective, and pays all sorts of dividends, as we knew perfectly well back a hundred years ago when we built the Great Northern Tunnel under downtown. That's why we can't do it today, because we as a city have no interest in doing things that are effective and pay dividends. Instead we must build more sports arenas and car tunnels.

In fact, I am this day announcing my proposal for a combined velodrome, jai alai fronton, NASCAR track and dressage arena to replace all of the container piers T-46, T-30, and T-18 and the BNSF marshalling yards nearby. What the fuck, let's just give all the port traffic to Tacoma and get to ballin'!
Besides, it's not like digging tunnels is extremely expensive or problematic, as it would be in an area subject to liquefaction during periodic factor 7 to 9 earthquakes in known danger areas ....

On the plus side, should such an event occur, coal trains don't have tons of people in them, so they cope with the power being shut off for days and the fans and lights and pumps going at the same time. Well, not very well, but coal trains don't care if they're covered in muck.
@12, do you mean like the Great Northern Tunnel, which has, er, worked perfectly without interruption underneath downtown for 107 years?

Also, your fake-technical term "factor" doesn't mean anything. There's no such thing as a "factor 7 earthquake", but it sure does make you sound like a super-duper expert -- if you don't understand English. Shut up, Will, you are embarrassing yourself again. Still.
Stopping the trains themselves is a little silly, especially by doing it this way. Either refuse to build the port because we don't support coal power or not. You can't stop the trains themselves.

And while the republicans are still firmly on coal's side for political purposes, @8 is totally right. Coal's share has gone from 51% to 35% and gas has gone from 25% to 30% and continues to rise. Gas is going to be the first step to removing coal in this country.
So the port is up in arms about NBA/NHL traffic, but they don't think that sixteen coal trains per day that are a mile long each will cause any congestion.

This article does a good job of summing up the potential problems. It's basically a summary of this longer report. (PDF)

@3 - Rural jobs gained, Seattle jobs lost due to decreased throughput at our port, which depends on surface streets just like cars do. It's hard to expect Seattle to trade its own workers' jobs to benefit workers elsewhere. It might be different if we saw a single dime from the endeavor.
@14, expected declining domestic consumption of coal due to more gas production is sort of the idea with the coal exports-- now that there's a less reliable domestic market for the huge Powder River Basin coal reserves, they're looking to exports to pick up the slack.

I personally think the coal exports are a good thing. China and Mongolia also have essentially limitless coal reserves, so it's not like they're going to stop using it because of supply issues, and their coal industries have 19th century attitudes towards labor, safety and the environment. If Powder River coal can compete with that, it keeps more Chinese and Mongolian coal in the ground. US coal pays good wages and first-world safety and environmental standards. If we're exporting we can maintain that industry while still reducing our own dependence on coal.

Assuming the coal dust and rail congestion issues aren't a problem, but I really think that's just a fig leaf.