By Charles Shigley Jr.
In reading the Everett Herald’s April 28 article on coal trains, “Coal trains would worsen Marysville’s traffic problem,” it occurred to me that Everett is in a position to eliminate all of the damage the trains will do to communities from Marysville to Cherry Point, and the city can make money doing it. When SSA Marine was looking for land to build a coal export terminal Everett had nothing to offer. But now, Kimberly Clark has shut down its pulp mill and put the land up for sale. The city has zoned it for deep-water dependent uses, which is exactly what coal terminals need.
Maybe it’s a little late to get into the competition, but Everett has nothing to lose and a great deal to offer. The coal terminal proposed for Bellingham has generated an avalanche of opposition, and Everett should fare far better because building a terminal on the old pulp mill site will cause fewer undesirable impacts. One way or the other those mile-long trains will rumble through Everett, and by building the coal terminal on the Kimberly Clark site the city will keep the land on the tax rolls, and benefit from the construction work and the jobs that will be created to operate the export terminal. The developer, SSA Marine, could also count on support from Everett’s elected officials, business leaders and organized labor.
From the coal industries standpoint, it will shorten the rail trip from the Powder River Basin to tide-water by 100 miles or more, and reduce the growing political and legal challenges from cities and towns north of Everett.
Competition is fierce for industries that might still want to build a deep water terminal on Puget Sound, and historically Everett has been at a disadvantage in competing for maritime business because unlike Seattle and Tacoma, Everett is served by only one railroad, its central business district obstructs the flow of traffic between its harbor and freeway, and it doesn’t have a great deal of affordable back-up space. But in this case none of that matters. The city has an absolute advantage, both economically and environmentally, and the mayor and the city council should insist that the Department of Ecology, The Army Corps of Engineers and Whatcom County fully and fairly look at Everett as a viable alternative to the coal terminal proposed for Whatcom County.
Building the coal terminal in Everett will eliminate the traffic congestion, aggravation, and enormous public costs that the rail traffic will impose on everyone from Marysville north to Cherry Point. Everett can rout coal trains through its tunnel right through the middle of town to the Kimberly Clark site without disrupting anyone or anything. No one gains anything except the railroad by sending eight or ten train loads of coal a day an additional hundred miles up the coast. Everett has everything SSA Marine needs to build a coal export terminal. It has the vacant land, a willing seller, the right zoning, and community leaders, both labor and business, all favor a water dependent industry on that site.
My wife and I live near Stanwood and own property in Everett. Running 18 coal trains a day through Stanwood will not improve life for the people who live and work here.
As an Everett taxpayer, I want the city to encourage SSA Marine to build the coal terminal on the Kimberly Clark site, keep the property on the tax rolls, and capture the economic benefits.
The loss of Kimberly Clark’s pulp mill still hurts but it also opened up a great opportunity for Everett’s leaders. There are few deep-water industries looking for land here and Everett should go after this one with everything it’s got.
Charles Shigley Jr. lives in Stanwood.