Letters to the Editor for Jan. 7, 2014

Coal, oil train hazards are not worth the risk

The explosion Dec. 30 in North Dakota of an oil train was the third major oil train accident in the last 6 months.

The Lac-Megantic accident could have been a one-time occurrence, and the Nov. 8 derailment/explosion in Alabama could have been a freak coincidence. This is the third major explosion and fire, however, and it is cause for alarm.

Tesoro-Savage wants to build the largest oil terminal on the West Coast at the Port of Vancouver. It would handle 380,000 barrels (4 trains) of oil a day - shipped by rail from North Dakota through Spokane down the Columbia; from Vancouver by ship down the Columbia, across the Bar, to refineries in California and Washington.

The oil terminal may provide up to 120 permanent jobs, but it will discourage other forms of investment at the Port costing even more jobs. In addition, North Dakota crude is highly combustible.

Two coal terminals have also been proposed for our state. The result of all these would be 30 to 40 mile-plus trains/day passing through our communities.

Can anyone feel that turning our beautiful area into a fossil fuel corridor is worth the risk, inconvenience, disruption to businesses, loss of property value and potential degradation of our environment?

Diana L. Gordon, Washougal

Budget deal restores some important programs

The recent Murray-Ryan budget deal is less than I hoped for, but better than the status quo.

It does nothing to address runaway Pentagon spending or close a single wasteful tax loophole. However, the deal does provide an invaluable opportunity for Congress to stop budgeting by crisis and resume a normal budget process.

Community programs in our state would be devastated if sequestration continued through 2014. Last year alone, millions of fewer meals were served to homebound seniors and 57,000 children were kicked out of Head Start.

I am glad Congress is taking a step in the right direction and restoring some of the funding sequestration cut.

I hope my senators will remember the needs of the poor and hungry right here at home, support the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, and continue the conversation about reining in excessive Pentagon spending.

Patricia Bereczki, Vancouver