Port considers coal train resolution

Additional discussions are expected July 17

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Port of Camas-Washougal Commissioner Bill Ward would like the port to have “a place at the table” regarding discussions about coal trains.

Ward said during the July 3 port commission meeting he wants the port to be included as a party of record in future discussions about the potential impacts of increased rail traffic.

Attorney Tim Harris said a letter could be written, requesting that the port be included as a party of record.

Ward said he was interested in how a “coal train parade” could affect traffic mobility, as well as quality of life and economic development.

“We should do what we can, to preserve that — for tourists and livability,” he said.

Commissioner Bill Macrae-Smith said he has read about the coal train issue in newspapers, but he has not seen the pros and cons.

“Do cities influence railroads?” he asked.

Commissioner Mark Lampton said cities and the county have weighed in on the coal train issue.

“We’re not going to have a coal terminal here,” he said. “We don’t have a voice in it.”

On March 19, the Washougal City Council approved a resolution that urges several agencies to include potential impacts of increased rail traffic in the scope of an environmental impact statement.

The resolution also requests project scoping and subsequent public hearings be held in Clark County, in addition to Washougal being made a party of record for each EIS process.Potential impacts of the increase in rail traffic listed in the resolution include additional traffic congestion and delays to residents and commerce, as well as increased tail pipe emissions from stopped and idling vehicles. Potential impacts from coal dust and other particulates that may be blown from open rail cars are also mentioned.Camas approved a similar resolution March 6.

There are proposed rail terminal projects in Whatcom County and Cowlitz County. Each project is expected to significantly increase rail traffic in Washougal, according to city documents. The proposed freight is coal, but could potentially be other commodities.In addition to Whatcom and Cowlitz counties, the State Department of Ecology and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are involved in scoping and publishing environmental impact statements.During public comment, Larry Keister, of Washougal, encouraged port commissioners to get involved in the environmental impact statement process.

“Be involved in the overall discussion,” he said.

Richard Hamby, of Washougal, said the port has an interest in protecting strategic investments for economic development and recreation.

Additional discussions and a vote on a coal train resolution could occur at the next port commission meeting Tuesday, July 17, at 5 p.m., in the port office meeting room, 24 S. “A” St., Washougal.