There needs to be robust and open debate on the merits of expanding the export terminals. These terminals, which serve as a gateway to Asia, have been an important part of the regional economy for more than a century. Debate over the terminals should be grounded in scientific facts and analysis. Well-established scientific approaches should be used to evaluate any potential environmental and human-health impacts.
Scientific assessments such as the one being conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers should provide clarity and context for decisions by public officials. Science-based assessments should also identify any constraints needed to assure protection of the environment and public health. The public at large should encourage and, indeed, demand such assessments.
Until such assessments are completed, it is plainly irresponsible to release exaggerated claims and mislead the public and regulators about the impact of transporting coal through the Northwest.
Roger O. McClellan, an expert on toxicology and human health-risk analysis, is former chairman of the National Research Council Committee on Toxicology, past Chairman of EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, and a member of the Institute of Medicine. This is an excerpt from an op-ed piece he wrote for the Seattle Times.
Learn more about the Northwest coal export proposals at EarthFix.