Students for Sustainable Campus has been celebrating this beautiful Fall by working on a whole host of projects relevant to this campus and beyond. In particular, their focus this semester has been saying no to coal exports with the Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaign. The campaign targets a proposed coal terminal that would be built in Longview, Washington in order to ship coal to China from a coal reserve in Montana. Washington Residents and the Beyond Coal campaign have been working for the last couple years in order to remove other possible terminals locations from being so. For example last year, A proposed terminal in Cherry Point near Bellingham was put on hold due to an overwhelming backlash from the local community.
SSC students have prioritized the current campaign for the Longview terminal because the trains would be chugging right through Tacoma. As Rick Herron from the Beyond Coal Campaign pointed out, the fight is right here because of how many people in the local are will be affected by the trains. SSC has been working with him since September 26th to get student signatures to show the State Department of Ecology that when they do their Environmental Impact Statement, which is required in order to build the export terminal, they consider every environmental, health and social and economic risk of increasing coal use and exports along the North West Coast.
Just last week, about twelve Students from the club as well as some from the Introductory Environmental policy seminar attended a scoping hearing for the project. The hearing, held by the State Department of Ecology, was an opportunity for those interested in speaking for or against the proposed coal terminal to share their testimonies with the department as part of the State’s required comment period. While this hearing was supposed to be unbiased, the ratio of opposers to supporters clearly favored SSC and their fellow opposers, with 750 beyond coal campaigners and 100 in favor of the terminal.
There is no doubt that SSC is saying no to coal exports, but as president Becca Ebert mentioned, the obvious division of those at the hearing is not always an effective method for success. Personally I am in complete agreement because making two sides means its very difficult to find common ground and solve problems collaboratively. For example, supports wore blue, and opposers wore red, which created a really obvious line between sides. It was very difficult to have a open discussion with individuals from the blue team because of that division. As student and a member of SSC, I think this is important to keep in mind as we continue the beyond coal campaign.
If any readers want to know more about the coal export terminal, there is a great article with all the facts in an issue of the Trail from a couple weeks ago. Also please come visit SSC at their table in the SUB, Tuesdays and Fridays and tell them what you think. SSC will continue to have comment cards available until November 18th. In the spirit of collaboration, remember that filling one out just means you don’t have to oppose coal , you just want the State Department to know all the facts and make an informed decision. All perspectives are important!
Have a splendid halloween loggers, I’ll be keeping my eye out for those who have been environmentally conscious with their costumes .