NW Clean Air Agency finds no emissions problems from coal transport

The Northwest Clean Air Agency monitored air quality near a Bellingham rail crossing for twenty months – months during which coal was safely transported by rail through the crossing – and found, well, no problems. The Bellingham Herald reports:

During the 20 months when the monitor was on the job sampling particulate pollution, it registered air pollution levels that exceeded levels considered “good” on just five days, measured over a 24-hour average, the data indicate.

On those five days, particulate levels were rated “moderate,” which is still below the concentrations levels known to cause health problems for some people with high sensitivity.

Bryan Myrick notes that this finding is consistent with previous research.
Coal has been moving over Washington state railways for a very, very long time, and although the proposed port expansions for Longview and Cherry Point near Bellingham would increase the amount of coal transported and shipped, the data collected by the agency from air samples taken from Feb. 2012 through Sept. 2013 found no impact from coal dust.
…The recent data supports a decades-long archive of measurements taken locally affirming that coal dust is simply not a real problem.
The Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports has links to earlier studies.
Last year we published a series of reports examining trade and transportation in our state, exploring the benefits of expanded export trade. The latest air quality data should help move the discussion from the imagined pollution effects back to the  tangible economic benefits.

Expanded Commodity Exports Will Create Jobs, Increase Investment  September 10, 2013

Washington Cargo Rides the Rails  August 29, 2013

Export Activity Boosts Washington’s Economy  August 20, 2013

Trade-Dependent Washington Relies on Rail  August 15, 2013