Ashley Ahearn

gibbseynz/Flickr

As Washington and Oregon consider proposals for three coal export terminals, many have raised questions about how much coal dust could come off the trains that would service those terminals. If the Gateway Pacific Terminal is built near Bellingham up to 18 coal trains could travel along the I-5 corridor every day. According to new research, some dust will escape from those trains.

There’s a county council election taking place in the far Northwest corner of Washington state that could play a major role in the future of the U.S. coal industry.

Whatcom County could one day be the home of the largest coal export facility on the west coast – which would transfer coal from trains onto ships bound for Asia.

The Whatcom County council could cast the deciding votes in the permitting of the Gateway Pacific Terminal.   

That’s put this election in the spotlight.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the EPA calling on it to do something about the acidifying waters of the Northwest.

The ocean absorbs millions of tons of greenhouse gases every day, and those gases are lowering the ocean’s pH and causing problems for shellfish and other creatures.

Under the Clean Water Act a water body can be declared “impaired” if it is too acidic.

Then it falls on the EPA to regulate the source of the pollution that’s causing the problem. In this case – CO2 emissions.

Environmental and commercial fishing groups filed a lawsuit in federal court Friday calling on Washington State to update the fish consumption rate. The groups say the state has failed to acknowledge how much fish people eat. That standard will dictate how much pollution is allowed into the water before fish are dangerous to eat.

Right now there is a 22-foot-long totem pole on the back of a truck heading up I-5 from Seattle. It's come all the way from the coal mines of Montana's Powder River Basin and will finish its journey north of Vancouver, B.C. The totem pole represents tribal opposition to coal exports in the region. There are 2 proposed coal terminals in Washington and one in Oregon. The largest one could be built next to the Lummi tribal lands north of Bellingham, Washington. The coal would arrive by train and then be shipped to Asia.

Monday (9/16) the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians will meet in Coeur d’Alene for their annual convention. Representatives from more than 50 tribes around the region including California, Nevada and Alaska will come together to discuss a variety of tribal business.

GovInslee

Governor Jay Inslee was in Arlington, Washington Wednesday to celebrate the opening of a new cleantech facility that will employ 70 people.

The Mayor’s office has released a report detailing the potential economic impacts of coal exports on Seattle. The report looked at how an increase in coal train traffic through the city would affect property values, roads, traffic and local businesses.

Across the Western U.S., yearly areas of snowpack are decreasing, and researchers are trying to figure out what that means for everything that relies on the snowmelt — from farms to power plants to a little creature known as the Cascades frog.

Greg Schechte, GregTheBusker

Way up in the mountains of the Northwest you’ll find a little amphibian known as the Cascades Frog. This frog thrives in alpine wetlands, which are dependent on snowmelt. But snowpacks are decreasing across the West. And scientists are trying to figure out how the frogs will adapt to their shrinking habitat. And they’re using some pretty interesting research methods to do that.

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