Environment Responsibility

The proposed export terminals will be built to achieve the Northwest’s high environmental standards. The environmental reviews for the facilities are thorough and involve multiple agencies. Every project will move through a public stakeholder process to ensure it meets rigorous state and federal guidelines put in place to protect the environment.

The Northwest’s strong legacy in the trade stands alongside a legacy of responsible environmental stewardship. This heritage is important and we are dedicated to building infrastructure and shipping export terminals in a way that respects the region’s clean environment and preserves the high quality of living that makes the Northwest a great place to live.

Here are answers to specific issues you may have heard about:

Air Quality

For over a century, trains carrying coal have been traveling through this area to serve power plants and on to British Columbia for export from Canada. Prior to the announcement of these facilities, there had been no air quality complaints associated with coal transport to area agencies. As an added precaution, all coal transported through the region will now be required to be treated with a thick coating that reduces dust by a minimum of 85%. And rail transportation, as the most efficient method of moving freight by land, is part of improving air quality in the U.S. In fact, emissions from rail rank below recreational boating as a source for particulate matter in the Puget Sound region.

Water Quality

Federal and state standards and permits strictly regulate water quality. This is fully addressed in the environmental impact statement process, the Shoreline Management Act, NEPA, and the Clean Water Act. The proposed terminals will employ world-class technology to ensure there is no impact on water quality.

Did you know?

  • The Northwest Clean Air Agency, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and Spokane Clean Air Agency have not had a single record of any coal dust complaints as of 2011, despite coal trains traveling through the region for years.
  • Locomotives are the most fuel-efficient means of ground transportation in America, accounting for less than 1% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.


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