Monday, September 17, 2012

Protesting Coal by Burning Gas? Go by Bike Instead!

Oil, coal, none of the fossil fuels are clean and we use far too much of them.

The Oregon Sierra Club has been organizing a "Beyond Coal" campaign and with the recent developments around the prospect of shipping coal by train through Salem they have sent a field organizer to coordinate advocacy.

On Wednesday at 7pm, there's a meeting at the library in the Anderson Rooms downstairs to kick-off the campaign. "It will be the introduction to issue of coal exportation and its local effects as well as a strategy session for the campaign."

Coal:  Oregon Sierra Club and Paul K. Anderson
Apart from more general and trans-regional concerns about climate change and coal, one way that people who bike should be interested in the matter is the prospect of inhaling coal dust as we bike. It's local, too. We already inhale particulates from car exhaust, and there are documented increases in illness and cancer along arterial and highway corridors.

So imagine coal dust - and the "sprays" they use to "minimize" it - on the Promenade, by Parrish Middle and North High Schools, and of course through all the residential districts.

Stryker Armored Vehicles by the Promenade
On the Promenade you'd be right there next to the coal shipments! 

It's hard to see how this benefits anyone other than the coal companies.  (If the argument comes down to jobs, well, maybe the best jobs program would be a massive public works campaign to pour sidewalks.  That's infrastructure that would benefit everyone!  And stuff that uses lots of manual labor rather than automation or heavy equipment.)

Maybe the meetings, too, will also get people thinking more about rail.  About ways to improve passenger rail, to shift freight from highway to rail, and ways to lessen the disruptions caused by rail's sort-and-separate impact on communities.  The importance of rail will only increase in the 21st century, and it will be important to develop better ways to work with it rather than against it. 

1 comment:

Jim Scheppke said...

I urge everyone to come out for the kick off meeting on Wednesday at 7 pm in the Anderson Room at the Library. We are facing a uphill battle on this. We need everyone who cares about the health and livability of our town to show up and get involved with the campaign.