Letter to the editor: Being serious about fossil fuel emissions

Virtually every day, we in Edmonds see approximately seven mile-long coal trains traveling northbound for shipment overseas; roughly 270,000 coal cars carrying ­about 30-40 million tons of coal annually. Much of this coal goes to China and other emerging countries; the world’s major emitters of greenhouse gases and contributors to climate change.
The United States’ current policy to solve this worldwide problem is to restrict all forms of carbon dioxide production in the United States, whatever the cost. Although the United States is the only industrialized country which has significantly reduced greenhouse gases, we are admonished to eliminate (or outlaw) all gas powered vehicles, and household appliances. They even want to control where we live and what we eat. Of course the impact of these policies on the American economy and quality of life would be catastrophic. Meanwhile, other than UN “Accords” and top-level international meetings that produce meaningless position papers, little or nothing decisive is done to stop China and emerging countries from burning coal, which is largely mined and sold to them by the USA.
Climate change is a serious matter and should be managed in a serious way. The United States should reduce our carbon footprint in every reasonable way but without needlessly devastating our country. But, if we are really serious about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, it is senseless to wreck our economy, freedoms and quality of life, while shipping coal to be burned abroad.
Gerald Bernstein
  1. And all that coal is being burned to make the things our government is forcing on us plus all the other nonessentials we buy from them everyday.

  2. With you until “They even want to control where we live and what we eat.” That tired old “they,” as if “they” somehow got there all on their own, without our votes and in the dark.

    “[T]he things our government is forcing on us,” those same evil folks we voted in, as our right as citizens.

    It’s OUR elected government. If we don’t like it, we are free to elect someone else and put an end to these vast, dark conspiracies. Try living were people really are controlled, and have no meaningful votes. Or try living in a heavily populated country without government. Or run for office, or make productive suggestions and work to implement them. We, the people, are not without power to change things!

    Other than that, your observation that we are idiotically sending pollutants to the world’s greatest polluter is right on target!

  3. I agree that we shouldn’t be shipping coal overseas and I’d love to see the coal trains that routinely run through Edmonds come to an end. However, the tone of this article and some of the language is bothersome and reads more like an anti-government rant. I suppose that people not being able to smoke in restaurants anymore and making cars stop at red lights are also things the government is “forcing on us”? What you may call “forcing on us”, I call laws and regulations and every functioning society has them. I’d also be curious to hear what you can no longer eat anymore that the government took away? Also, where can’t you live?

    We are in a war for the future and need to be doing better. That means stopping the mining of, selling of, and shipping of coal, as well as switching to green technologies and lifestyles. In order to achieve this, it’s going to take a lot more laws and regulations, not less.

    1. If we stopped shipping coal it would likely cause a global depression isn’t government promoting a diet with less meet isn’t the government promoting growth to only occur in places of high population already? Isn’t government going to stop selling gas cars in about a decade isn’t government trying to take away the use of gas for heat and cooking? I would say government is definitely trying to engineer our lives thru policy. But really we voted for it, well I didn’t, so in reality we deserve the results. Enjoy your solent green.

  4. The letter points out very good points. The US should indeed look seriously on how to be more energy efficient. However, we must be rational about it.

    Germany made a knee-jerk decision to shut its nuclear plants down after Fukushima and now is having to build or recommission coal plants to meet its energy needs.

    In the meantime, the current US administration wants to force everyone to use electric cars and appliances. At the same time it wants to shut down our coal plants. Where’s the energy to feed all the electrical stuff being forced on the population coming from? I laugh every time I see those electric cars with “zero emissions” adhesives. Where do their owners believe the electricity used to recharge their cars come from? Little gnomes pedaling hamster wheels behind the wall? Where do they think the Lithium (one of the most polluting mining operations) used in their car batteries come from? Where do they think their spent batteries go to?

    We indeed must be energy responsible. However, we must be rational about it and not act just on knee-jerk reactions based on information provided by people with vested conflict of interest and making tons of money pushing those “green energy” measures.

    1. Where electricity comes from in Washington State:
      67% hydroelectric dams
      9% wind and solar
      8% nuclear
      16% natural gas, our single coal-fired power plant, and what is called “biomass” (wood and agricultural products)

      I would not compare a two-month transition like Germany’s stopping nuclear to a two-decade transition like the United State’s dropping coal, oil, and natural gas. You are right: as we do this, we should be careful to do it well.

  5. Gerald Bernstein, you are correct that the U.S. has to stop exporting coal, oil, and natural gas. That’s not going to happen this month.

    The U.S. now exports more oil than we import. Our biggest oil customers are Mexico, Canada, and China (https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/oil-and-petroleum-products/imports-and-exports.php), all places that are turning to wind, solar, and hydro, like the U.S.

    We export way more coal and natural gas than we import, and, in the U.S., we burn a lot more coal and natural gas than we export (https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/coal/imports-and-exports.php, https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/natural-gas/imports-and-exports.php).

    A low-hanging fruit is to build more electricity power plants. Building power plants means building wind and solar generation, because solar and wind provide the highest profit opportunities (https://www.lazard.com/media/2ozoovyg/lazards-lcoeplus-april-2023.pdf).

    1. Isn’t China and other places still building coal fired plants? I think so. And many places are building gas fired plants. I think we only use coal for about 20% of our energy needs with many places that have switched to gas from coal. I think we only have about 20% of our power generation coming from wind and solar. Global greenhouse gas emissions were at a all time high in 2023 and expected to not peak for at least several more years then we would need to drop output by 25% by 2030 to meet a 2 degree goal what happened to 1.5 degrees? Facts of life we aren’t going to make it and in the meantime we are going to tax the poor the most with carbon taxes on their energy needs. Or worse force them to find a different source they can’t afford. Must be nice to sit so high on the hill.

  6. Reuters reported yesterday:
    “China has been the world’s largest and fastest-growing producer of renewable power for more than a decade, and its lead has widened with an acceleration of solar and wind power capacity in recent years.”
    “The country will build as much new solar capacity this year as the total installed capacity in the U.S., according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.”
    “Fossil fuels now make up less than half of China’s total installed capacity for power generation.”

    It is the case that China is still building coal-fired plants. We are still building natural-gas-fired plants. They are just building wind and solar generation faster than we are.

  7. Unfortunately the fossil fuel industry is financing significant misinformation and disinformation. Here are the facts:

    “Where’s the energy to feed all the electrical stuff being forced on the population coming from?”

    The same place it comes from now, with the addition of significant increases in renewable energy.


    The grid will be able to handle the transition. Even when *new* car sales must be fully electric, it will take another 20 years for all of the existing gas cars to leave the road.


    “Where do their owners believe the electricity used to recharge their cars come from?”

    In Edmonds, 80% of our energy comes from renewables (per SnoPUD). Nationwide 25% of electricity comes from renewables, and the vast majority of new electric power generation is renewables.


    Even if the electricity for EVs comes from gas-fired plants, EVs are 3x-4x more efficient than gas cars in their use of energy.


    “one of the most polluting mining operations”

    Not for much longer.


    “Where do they think their spent batteries go to?”

    More than 90% of the battery materials can be recycled, which will significantly reduce the need for mining new lithium. Or EV batteries can be reused for power storage.


    1. Thank you, Aparajita Fishman!
      It is great to have the resources to read and catch up on what is happening.
      Thank you for taking the time to get them together and provide a summary/annotation to help guide people who want to learn about this transition.

  8. The MSM has had folks in crisis by design for years now. Crisis make people move. The Dem party indoctrinates children and the naive into “climate justice” along with several other identity politics scams. They amplified the Covid “Crisis” to the point their people are wearing masks that don’t work in their cars while alone. They concentrate on these fake “crisis” while people pour in by the millions and thousands die from fentanyl that comes with them. Oh and that isn’t an issue. Lately they all repeat we are losing our democracy(they run 2/3 of the Federal Govt) and 100% of the Wa State govt. What’s next are we sending our kids to Iran? Crisis lol. Hope I didn’t lower my social credit score.

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