Monthly Archives: March 2012

Coal Trains in the Gorge?

Brief Background:

There are currently several proposed coal export terminals throughout Oregon and Washington, primarily in Longview and Bellingham (as well as Coos Bay, Port of St. Helens, Port of Morrow).  All proposals would involve shipping coal through the Gorge from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana.  The CGWA is concerned about the potential negative impacts coal trains could have on you, the windsurfers of the Gorge.  Here are some links to websites with more information:

Columbia Riverkeeper – Local non-profit in opposition

Friends of the Columbia Gorge – Local non-profit in oposition

BNSF – The Railroad company that owns the track and train operations on the Washington side of the Columbia River

Peabody Energy – The coal company working on the Bellingham proposal

Ambre Energy – the parent company of Millenium Bulk Terminal – working on the Longview/Morrow proposal

What can you do?

We, as an organization, would like to get more information.  The proposals are currently in the “scoping” stages, and we want to make sure the Gorge is taken into consideration!  Please write letters, e-mails and call the decision making officials.  Let them know you are interested and paying attention!

Commissioner Peter Goldmark – Washington Commissioner of Public Lands
1111 Washington St. SE   – or – PO Box 47001
Olympia  WA 98504

Governor John Kitzhaber
900 Court St.  NE
Salem OR 97301

Governor Chris Gregoire
PO Box 40002
Olympia WA 98504

Director Ted Sturdevant
Washington State Department of Ecology
PO Box 47600
Olympia WA 98504

Please feel free to copy and use the following SAMPLE LETTER  to print and send to the above recipients.


Dear ___________________ –

I am writing this letter to ask you to give ample consideration to the affects of coal shipments through the Columbia River Gorge.   It is my understanding that the coal transfer terminals proposed in Longview and Bellingham may result in millions of tons of coal being shipped from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana through the Columbia River Gorge.

As a windsurfer and a member of the recreation community I foresee several significant negative affects if these proposals are fulfilled.

  • First, I am concerned about the harmful implications to our air and water quality.  I believe it is imperative to have non-biased third party studies completed on these issues as specifically relate to the Gorge.  For example, how will the uniquely strong west winds of the Gorge affect uncovered train cars filled with Powder River Basin coal?
  • Secondly, I believe it is necessary to examine the increase in train traffic.  How many trains will be added to the current train traffic on both sides of the tracks, both in the short and long term?  How will this affect wait times for at-grade crossings?  Is there a possibility of adding more tracks to accommodate the increase in train traffic? These answers will have a direct impact on river access and thus the flow of water users throughout the Gorge.
  • Lastly, please take into consideration the commerce, industry and business that recreation brings to the Gorge.  A 2009 study by Tetra Tech, Inc. on the economic impact of windsurfing and kiteboarding predict that these two groups will bring $1.7 – 3.9 million in added value per year to the region.   Will coal transportation through the Gorge deteriorate the quality of recreation?  Will this in turn disrupt the flow of commerce brought to this area via recreation?

In conclusion, I sent this letter to demonstrate my extreme interest in this issue.  Please give the Columbia River Gorge the attention it deserves when examining these proposals.  I appreciate your hard work on this issue and hope all affected regions of this proposal are taken into consideration.