There is an increasing recognition that the environmental assessment, which is required as part of the Corps of Engineers permitting the construction of ports for coal export, needs to be geographically comprehensive and include the diverse and cumulative impacts, according to the April 19, 2012 New York Times report. The article highlights activities surrounding a proposed port at Boardman, Oregon, while also noting, such as in the quotes below, the broader implications of the export of coal through the Pacific Northwest.
“All of these projects — and others like them — would have several similar impacts,” Kate Kelly, the director of the Office of Ecosystems, Tribal and Public Affairs for the Environmental Protection Agency in Seattle, wrote to the Army Corps of Engineers this month. “Consider, for example, the cumulative impacts to human health and the environment from increases in greenhouse gas emissions, rail traffic, mining activity on public lands and the transport of ozone, particulate matter, and mercury from Asia to the United States.” The latter refers to pollution from coal-fired plants in Asia potentially reaching the West Coast.
[Conservationists] say exporting coal will simply export greenhouse gases while also threatening air quality in the Northwest, particularly in places near rail lines. They have recently broadened their appeal, arguing that the federal government should review the different proposals as a whole for their potential environmental impact, in part because they would drastically increase coal-car rail traffic through a range of pristine areas, including bird refuges and habitat for endangered salmon.