Wednesday, May 27, 2015

General Assembly Concerned by Coal Trains

Approved as amended (amended text below) by the 221st General Assembly (2014) on the consent agenda --

On Affirming a Programmatic Review of the Impact of Expanded Coal Export Projects on Human Health and Well Being

The Presbytery of Seattle overtures the 221st General Assembly (2014) to state concerns related to the ongoing and expanding extraction and export of fossil fuels, particularly coal, from the U.S. for use in Asia, and approve the following measures for public health and climate stewardship:

     1. Urges civil authorities to conduct promptly a full, programmatic review and assessment of the impact of expanded coal export projects in Washington and Oregon on human health and the well-being of communities along the Northwest rail lines. [This should include full Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) produced by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the studies should be conducted at multiple locations along the proposed expansion route so as to assess the impact on vulnerable communities.
     2. Commends the Washington State Department of Environmental Quality (WA DEQ) for its decision to conduct a full EIS along the route within its jurisdiction and directs the Stated Clerk to communicate this approbation to WA DEQ.
     3. Recognizes that regional issues of extraction, pollution, transportation, and export have interstate, national, and global implications, both for environmental justice concerns and for global climate disruption/change. Such impacts range from coal dust pollution, diesel particulates, potential for derailments, negative impacts on real estate, and public health and safety concerns, to global climate change, sea level rise, acidification of oceans, severe weather events, and the ethical dilemma of profiting from the export of coal and other fossil fuels for use in countries whose environmental and pollution restrictions are less stringent.
     4. Affirms that civil authorities are called upon to require full disclosure and consideration of the combined effect of all coal export projects taken together on the poorest and most vulnerable communities, locally and globally. The General Assembly further affirms that the evaluation of coal export involves moral choices, in which key considerations are caring for the creation that God has made and with careful stewardship and justice for those who depend on a stable climate and water supply for survival.
     5. Directs the Stated Clerk to write to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA, and the governors and congressional delegation of Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho, urging comprehensive Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) along proposed routes for expanded export of fossil fuels, including analysis from the National Transportation Safety Board and other bodies as necessary.
     6. Commends the presbyteries of Seattle, Cascades, and North Puget Sound for their environmental awareness and advocacy, and encourages other Presbyterians and councils of the church to consider the impact of resource extraction, transportation, and use in their regions and to work with state and national ecumenical bodies and the Office of Public Witness of the Presbyterian Mission Agency in addressing concerns.