But to keep their profits high, greedy coal companies want to move strip-mined coal from Montana and Wyoming 1,500 miles by open rail car, through Washington and Oregon communities to be burned in Asia. In an op-ed last week for The News Tribune, Earth Ministry board member and Christian ethics professor, Kevin O'Brien, explained why coal export is not compatible with his faith.
O'Brien begins with Jesus' commandment to "love our neighbors as ourselves" and points out that this golden rule is a universal ethical principle, not unique to Christianity. In fact, people from all faith traditions and even those without a faith background strive to treat others as we would like to be treated.
Beginning with our neighbors at home, O'Brien argues that coal export does not follow this golden rule. The coal dust blown off the coal trains traveling through Washington and the Northwest contains heavy metals which rob our children and communities of their health. Additionally, the mile-long coal trains stall traffic and split cities, potentially blocking ambulances from hospitals they need to reach.
However, allowing coal export is not only being a bad neighbor within the Pacific Northwest but also abroad.
Refusing to export coal is, finally, the right thing to do for our world. If coal is too dirty for us to burn here in Washington, then we should not send it across the ocean where it will poison others. In the face of a changing climate, we all have a vested interest in keeping fossil fuels in the ground rather than allowing them to pollute our atmosphere.As people of faith, we must make the moral choice in caring for our neighbors and the Earth. Join with Kevin O'Brien, Earth Ministry, and numerous faith leaders in being good neighbors by rejecting coal export!
It is true that developing economies in Asia need energy sources, but we should offer tools for clean and renewable power rather than dirty fossil fuels. If we truly care for our neighbors around the world, we must say no to coal export terminals.
Read O'Brien's full op-ed online at The News Tribune.