Letter: Coal companies distort record on coal trains

June 23, 2013 

How regrettable the Herald's editorial board repeated the coal export lobby's misleading distortion about the number of coal dust complaints by three clean air agencies. Misleading, because it implies people have not complained about coal dust or coal trains. I'd call a lawsuit against BNSF for polluting the Columbia River with coal dust a "complaint."

The coal lobby's claim is distorting because the issue is not so much whether people complain. It's whether people are harmed from actions that profit a few in the short term and harm many in the long term.

It may be true that three clean air agencies have received no complaints. It's also true coal today traverses through the parts of Washington regulated by four other local clean air agencies, and that people can and do complain not to clean air agencies but to their elected officials, be they local or our U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. I have contacted U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, about coal trains, not the Benton Franklin Clean Air Agency.

Kudos to the Herald for trying to strike middle ground on coal. That's where coal belongs -- in middle earth, not on trains or pumping poisons into the air.

MADELEINE BROWN, Richland

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