Cross-posted from the Coal Export Action
Across the Northwest, people are waking up to the threat of coal export projects in their communities. Recently, students from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington took action, organizing a march against coal exports a few days before a forum on how coal exports and increased coal train traffic would negatively impact Spokane.
On Sunday, April 15th, Gonzaga students marched from the University campus to a busy street intersection, where their signs reading “Honk for Clean Air” garnered attention from drivers parked at the street intersection. Says Gonzaga student Adriana Stagnaro, “As we walked we remembered our intentions of supporting the community with an action to raise awareness about issues surrounding coal exports. We smiled and waved to cars as we made our way into town.”
At the intersection, students talked with passersby waiting at crosswalks, and explained what an increase in coal train traffic would mean for Spokane. This city sits on at the intersection of two existing rail lines coal trains could use to get from eastern Montana and Wyoming to the West Coast, putting the community at the front lines of the fight against coal exports. Of course, with every additional coal train to hit the tracks comes an increase in coal dust, diesel emissions, and climate-changing carbon pollution.
A few days after the march, coal-free activists held a forum at Gonzaga University, featuring speakers Bart Mihailovich of Spokane Riverkeeper, Gonzaga professor Hugh Lefcort, and local farmer Walter Kloefkorn. According to Stagnaro, the panel “really exposed the complex nature of environmental-human issues surrounding coal exports.”
Like communities throughout the five-state region of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, Spokane residents may have a long road ahead of them when it comes to protecting their public commons from the threat of coal exports. But this community with a history of leadership on social issues is already getting organized, and students at Gonzaga are setting an example.
No doubt this won’t be the last we hear from Spokane residents. With communities across the Northwest rallying to stop coal exports, King Coal’s CEOs don’t know what they’re up against!