The American Farm Bureau Federation is joining the legal battle against Washington state’s efforts to block the export of coal from ports within its boundaries.
We agree with the Farm Bureau. Further, we believe that Washington state’s refusal to allow coal trains to use a port near Longview amounts to an attempt to hijack interstate trade. As such, the courts should reject the state’s efforts, and Washingtonians should see it for what it is — a naked effort to cripple an industry that is out of favor with the Seattle crowd and its fellow travelers.
Lighthouse Resources Inc., the parent company of Millennium Bulk Terminals, has gone to court to protect its rights against Washington’s attack. A growing list of other states, counties, railroads, organizations — and anyone else who knows that the U.S. Constitution protects interstate trade — have added their voices, too.
Mining coal is legal, and so is transporting it. So is selling it, and exporting it to overseas customers. The only way Washington “leaders” can stop this or any other legal activity is to cook up a list of “impacts.” Like coal dust that blows off hopper cars, and noise made by locomotives — and don’t forget the exhaust from those locomotives.
All of which would be of only passing interest to the Farm Bureau and others, but for the fact that no state regulators have the right to take over interstate and international trade. If the Seattle crowd gets together with the San Francisco crowd and the Portland and Los Angeles crowds and starts dictating what can and cannot be exported and imported through West Coast ports, every industry will have a problem.
Agricultural products could also be victimized by such power grabs. Billions of dollars worth of crops grown in the U.S. are exported through West Coast ports. If Washington, Oregon and California get together and gin up some regulatory rigmarole to stop a crop or product from being exported, then what?
The eager beavers among Washington’s regulators who want to score points with the environmental purists believe they are saving the world. They should tell that to the folks overseas who could lose their jobs for the lack of fuel for power plants or to power industrial development. Efforts on the part of wealthy Americans to tell other nations what to do show only their short-sightedness.
No matter what you think of the coal industry, you would have to agree that Washington state has overstepped its authority in trying to stop the legal transportation of coal within its boundaries.
This is not a complicated issue.
Coal is legal. What Washington state is trying to do is not.