The phrase "The City of Seattle will request" appears five times in its brief resolution stating its "opposition" to coal exports. The fact is that there is no law on the books that allows the city to restrict heightened coal exports.
If you haven't heard yet, Peabody Energy plans to dramatically scale up coal exports to Asia by rail from Montana through Seattle up to Bellingham. The Seattle area (especially Ballard) would face 18 1.5 mile long coal trains per day: up to 150 million tons coal per year. There are 130 cars per train which each leak 500 - 2000 lbs of poisonous coal dust and remnants on the journey. 480 of the largest single hull vessels in the world would be coming through San Juan Islands each year. In total, this project represents 50% more coal than the U.S. has ever shipped. Doctors say health effects from diesel emmissions and coal dusts begin way below current federal safety standards.
In last week's, Global Warming's Terrifying New Math, Bill McKibben explains the science that the planet is on track to an 11 degree rise "which would create a planet straight out of science fiction. ... We have five times as much oil and coal and gas on the books as climate scientists think is safe to burn."
This is why it's imperative that the coal train be stopped - to protect our community and our planet. But, after having its plastic bag fee overturned by an industry-funded referendum and being sued for its phone book ordinance, the city council is hesitant to pass a ban on coal exports that would surely invoke a lawsuit over interstate commerce regulations. The Constitution states that only Congress can regulate interstate commerce.
The problem therefore is that the City of Seattle has no way to protect our community from the diesel emmissions, coal dust and remnants and climate change from coal exports.
Seattle's Initiative 103 (pdf) would authorize the city council to protect our community with Rights for Nature; and corporations that attempt to challenge these regulations would not have personhood rights or constitutional protections, such as the commerce clause. If the city does not step up to protect our community, i103 allows for any citizen to have standing to do so. I103 also includes a formal call to state and federal officials to change laws that currently allow corporations to overturn the health, safety and wellbeing of communities nationwide.
Call to Action: Help Initiative 103 qualify for the ballot. Right now, print and sign the petition form and mail it in. If you just want to sign it yourself and have a few friends sign it, use the five signature form. Or, if you want to gather a lot of signatures, use the fifteen signature form. Forms must be printed double-sided or stapled. Learn more about signature gathering and drop off points.
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