Sunday, December 2, 2012

about Coal in the Northwest

Today McClatchy, the company that owns the Tacoma and Tri-Cities, Washington newspapers, as well as the Modesto and Sacramento Bee, published an article about coal in the Northwest.  

Here is a link:

Wow, either the newspaper or the local officials have missed the mark.  Never mind how the trains could clog traffic - what about the increased diesel emissions from the trains, and the toxic coal dust that poisons all along railroad tracks?  

Tribes oppose coal trains.  The opposition even merited a mention by the venerable New York Times:

I like the picture the Times used:

Peace and justice, y'all


Friday, November 30, 2012

On Evil Coal

Below is the text of a flyer I wrote to help my neighbors and friends understand the evils of coal and to take action to prevent the evil from spreading. 

Evil Coal….




While we in the Northwest enjoy mostly clean energy (thanks, hydros!), around the nation coal provides about 57% of our electricity.  And, the US has a lot of coal.

We may not be safe from coals, poisons, though.  First, companies are seeking to mine coal from public land in the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming, and send it to Asia via rail to the Pacific Coast.

Second, wherever it is burned, coal puts greenhouse gases into the air when we know that these gases are causing global climate change.

A Utah coal company wants to build a coal transfer station at Boardman to move coal from rail to barge for the trip to Asia. 
The Port of Morrow has made a deal with the Utah company, but the company still needs a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers and several from the state of Oregon.

Coal is dirty.  “Clean Coal” is a lie.  It’s a fossil fuel and when burned, puts greenhouse gases in the air.  It puts radioactive thorium and uranium into the air—far more than do commercial nuclear reactors. 

When mined, it poisons workers and nearby residents, and wildlife.  It kills streams.  Mountaintop removal destroys forests. 

We in the Tri-Cities get our power from BPA. About 2% of it comes from coal. The company that owns the plant in Centralia also does mountaintop removal in Appalachia.  

We are all connected.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have recently pegged the annual cost of coal, including harm to public health, damage from mining, pollution, and subsidies—at $345 billion annually in the US alone.

Demand in the US for coal is declining, but worldwide, the demand rages.  That’s why companies seek to mine coal from public land in the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming and ship it by rail to West Coast ports – to ship to Asia. 

Two Washington ports and several Oregon ports are considering ports for coal exports. 

One of these is in Boardman.  The US Army Corps of Engineers has regrettably decided to only do an Environmental Assessment, rather than a more rigorous EIS.  The state is holding hearings on the various permits the facility would require.  The comment period closes December 20 on this permit.   

In Bellingham, the environmental review for a proposed port has sparked opposition in the forms of resolutions from the city council and hundreds of demonstrators at public meetings.

Coal on rail lines makes for a bad neighbor. Coal dust is a huge source of respiratory illness.  It also degrades water quality.  Coal dust escapes during transit because the rail cars are overfilled and uncovered.  Coal dust already escapes along Northwest rail lines.
One last point – coal terminals do not produce many jobs.  For example, the proposed coal export terminal at Longwood would occupy 416 acres of heavy industrial waterfront property and produce 70 jobs – less than 0.2 jobs/acre.  By contrast, a site in Troutdale on cleaned up land has a
business supporting 1.1 jobs/acre. Another, in Vancouver, supports 3.4 jobs/acre.

Portland and Los Angeles have already gambled and lost on coal export facilities. 

David and Goliath?

Big Coal is powerful. It has an army of lobbyists and lots of subsidies.  You may have seen slick commercials about coal. 
But many organizations and communities are speaking out.  EPA has taken long overdue steps to regulate this industry more diligently.   The need to curtail greenhouse gases is more widely understood and getting more urgent.  So yes, let’s fight coal. 

What you can do

Ø  Visit

Ø  Visit Sightline Institute

Ø  Urge our legislature to keep I-937 strong (state law for more renewable energy, with targets that utilities don’t like).

Ø  Submit comments on the Boardman proposal.  Hearing in Boardman December 4! We only have until 12/20/12 to comment against the proposed Boardman coal terminal. Please tell the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to deny the Air Containment Discharge Permits and other state permits that would pave the way for dirty coal exports.   Attend a hearing, or email

Ø  Give money to the groups fighting coal. 
Ø  Get engaged, stay engaged.   Use your First Amendment rights to speech, press, assembly, religion, and petitioning government.
Well!   This has a very local approach, but the resources in links and facts can help you fight coal whereever you are. 
Peace and justice, y'all

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Slavery again

I have not blogged in some time and in the interim, I have worked at an amazing exhibit about human exploitation called "Sold."   Please visit

I learned a lot more about modern slavery through the time I spent helping the exhibit.   I had a fun job - I sold jewelry and crafts made by child survivors of sexual slavery in Cambodia.   The products are from a wonderful organization called Agape International, which  you can visit at

I enjoyed browsing through the bracelets, and yes, I was a good customer too.   I received almost as much $ in donations as I did in sales, which is truly lovely.  

When it was quiet, I read one of the books on the book table - Renting Lacy.  It was an easy read intellectually but not emotionally.  Quite powerful - I recommend it.  Author is Linda Smith, a Washington state former legislator, and now the founder of Shared Hope International. 

This experience was about a month ago, and it is still very much with me.  

Please visit these web sites and become a little more aware, and then a little more engaged.  

Peace and justice, y'all


Sunday, May 6, 2012

More on faithfulness

More peace in my home since I started acting more kindly and attentive to my hubby.  I help him remember his meds, massage him, tease him and talk to him more.   And he is in turn happier.   So things are better! 

Would that things were better everywhere.  But alas, we do what we can and make things better wherever we are.  

The Spring of Sustainability sessions continue through June, and they are awesome.   How I hope to harness some of the inspiration I'm feeling, and learn more, much more, from the experts I listen to.   Somewhere on the planet someone is reading this, and I hope to share what I learn.  

Peace and justice, y'all


Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I have been listening to the Spring of Sustainabilty's weekday teleconference interviews with leaders in sustainability.  It has been very inspiring, mostly.  Each person is asked the same question at the end:  what one thing should listeners do to make the world more sustainable? 

The answers are in a few categories.  First, get going.  Take the first step.  Take personal inventory.  Know your values and priorities and act on them.  

These ideas do not relate strictly and solely to environmental issues.   They work in other dimensions as well. 

Sustainabilty does not relate strictly to environmental issues.   Sustainabilty means living now in a way that ensures future generations can do likewise.  So there is also social sustainability.   Fair housing.  Access to good education.  Access to good health care.  

Sounds like the things that constitute a just and peaceful, verdant world.  

The Spring of Sustainability series continues through the end of the month.  Visit them online and tune in.  It's really worth it.

Peace, and justice, y'all


Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I have the word faithful in my password and everytime I type it I think about faithfulness.  Having faith?  the condition of having faith.  Feeling full of faith?    Faith is not my strong suit, practice is.  In Quaker terms, what you do is your practice and what is in your heart is your faith.  So I am more grounded in taking positive steps than in mere belief.

Yet I pray constantly.  Go figure

I pray for peace, I pray for justice.  I pray for my country and for my planet.  And for myself-my health and peace of mind and the like.  

I have been listening to daily teleconferences about sustainability.  Every interview closes with "what is the one most important thing for your listeners to do? "  And there is some consistency in the reply:  get started.  Do something.  Do Some Thing, and it will lead to the next, and the next, and soon you'll have allies and a movement and perhaps an achievement. 

So I dive into this blog and hope these random thoughts help you, dear reader, go somewhere and do some thing.

Peace, y'all


Saturday, April 21, 2012


The importance of Truth has become very clear to me.  If we see truth, how can we not become humbled by it?  How can we keep up our pretences if we see the truth?   I think it's impossible.

I came to this understanding about truth through a quote involving growing our personal strengths in three areas:   precision, gentleness, and ability to let go.    "Precision" rattled around in my head quite dissonantly, and a friend suggested to think of it as seeing things accurately.   And to me that means recognizing truth.  

I find this very humbling.   Yet familiar.  I am Quaker, and the formal name of our group is the Religious Society of Friends.  And we are friends of....... TRUTH.   So my Quaker forebears already recognized the cardinal place of truth in our human understanding, faith and practice.   Seeking more truth.

The revelations I have found and shared about trafficking are part of seeing the truth.   First we see the problem, then we imaging a solution, then we enlist others and bring the solution into being. 

Truth.... A beautfiul and powerful force.  

Yes, this is part of my nonlinear path to personal peacemaking.   Seeing truth, God willing, will help me see the right path to increase the amount of peace and justice in this world. 

Glad we didn't spend money today on fancy fish.   Glad we didn't gamble in the raffle at the gig today.  (Meeting? Event? Party? I don't know.)  Seems to me a better way to spend money is to help others.   A little glimmer of truth there, just a weak and faint one. 

Peace and justice, y'all