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November 22, 2012     Cheney Free Press
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November 22, 2012
 

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Page 4 Free Press Thursdhy, November 22, 2012 will ~:: ~:~:ii~:~i~i!~::!:~o:~i~:~i~:::~iii~i~:~i~i~ii~ ~:~i~i~i~/~i~: , g The most important thing about democracy is it requires citi- zen participation to make it work. Spokane County and Eastern Washington residents have a unique opportunity to do just that on an issue that is slowly rising to the hot-button level: Coal trains. And in that regards, eVceryone should mark Dec. 4 on their calen- dars. That's the date the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Ecology and other regulatory agencies are holding a public hearing to receive testimony on a proposal to move millions of tons of coal mined in the Powder River Basin area of Wyoming and Montana through our region to four proposed terminals in west- ern Washington, Oregon and on the Columbia River. It's part of an Environmental Impact State- Tent scoping period for gather- ing information running Sept. 23 to Jan. 21, 2013. Coal is already a contested issue. In the coming months we will hear arguments from an army year by 2022 would equate to 28 of proponents and opponents of the mining of the fossil fuel. There are good arguments on either side, but for us the issue right now is transportation and there are questions surrounding the move- Tent of coal, beginning with how much. Moving coal from the Powder River Basin to western export terminals will increase rail traffic through our area. BNSF Railway CEO Matthew Ro e told the Co- lumbian editorial board that eight to 12 and perhaps 12-16 coal-haul- ing trains could be added per day through Clark County, hauling an estimated 50 million to 100 million tons annually. A study commissioned by the Western Organization o! Re- source Councils and performed by a pair of transportation ex- perts presents a different view. Using "publicly released an- nouncements and permit applica- tions by ports and coal compa- nies of facilities on the plhnrTting boards," the study "Heavy Traf- fic Ahead" concluded moving a projected 75 million tons per year by 2017 to 170 million tons per to 63 loaded and empty coal trains per day, many of those passing through this region. Right now Cheney, Spokane and Spokane Valley are seeing about four of 1.25- to 1.5-mile long, trains per day. With 30-35 trains passing through Cheney and 60 through Spokane and the Valley per day, how many more trains are we really talking about? How will it impact us? Ina meeting with the Cheney Free Press editorial board Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder said that city has spent about $40 million in upgrades near rail routes the past few years. Spokane Valley resi- dents already know of the delays experienced there from long trains, as do we in Cheney. If train traffic is increased by more than Rose's prediction but less than the WORC's study esti- mates that's still a sizeable amount of traffic. Train opponents claim our rail system is already at capac- ity, while BNSF points to $100 million in improvements they've made on the line from Pasco to Portland, the busiest in their sys- tem. Are we really at capacity? Will BNSF's improvements be enough? How will the coal traffic affect the movement of local commodities like grain and container trains to and from markets and thus the lo- cal economy? What happens if a coal train derails passing through area cit- ies? How will it be handled? How will these trains impact traffic at crossings, including emergency vehicles? " And there are health concerns surrounding the increase in coal dust and diesel fume particulates. It's important the citizen's voice be heard and comments made on these issues. The fact an EIS hear- ing is being conducted so far from the proposed export terminals is a unique opportunity for communi- ties to comment on an issue that likely brings more impacts than benefits locally. Take advantage of it. Go to the Dec. 4 hearing at the Spokane In- terstate Fairgrounds from 4-7 p.m. and give your two cents, in writing or verbally. Write to the Corps of Engineers or DOE through Jan. 21. It's better to do this now, than try to make changes later. GUEST COMMENTARY Fisher family sad to see building go After the elections, attitude Will be key This letter is in response to the their history- preferring to main- article in the Cheney Free Press tain a historic school building (Nov. 8) "Uncertain Future for rather than demolish it for a new Fisher." modem building. , As granddaughters of George The Fisher Building is a Big- tion about and~Dorothy FiSher, we were ex- nificant symbol of the history of t h e ' n e x t trernely saddened to read of the Cheney. If the history of Cheney step in the plans the Cheney School District is forgotten, the soul of the town fiscal dra- is contemplating for the Fisher will leave with it. It will no longer ma is tak- Building. TheFisher Buildingis be defined as a town, butonlyas ing place arguably one of the most impor- the location for EWU. We are past among our tant (and recognized) landmarks studentsofEWUandunderstand elected of Cheney. Thousands of students the importance of this institution leaders. At passed through its doors from in Cheney. However, as we have 1930 through 1978. seen in the recent years, should the It is a shame this building has Fisher Building be demolished, or been neglected and left to dete- sold to EWU, it will no doubt be- riorate, while other schools have come another convenient parking been built and remodeled, and lot for the college. other school projec~ funded. Had Perhaps it would serve the the Fisher Building been properly Cheney School Board and su- maintained, there would be no perintendent well by learning reason it would be facing the fu- the history of who George Fisher ture it is now. Other communities have taken a stand to preserve See Letters page 5 FREE PRESS Vol. 116 -No. 31 Press Publisher Harlan Shellabarger Production Manager Editor Randy Warwick John McCallum Pressmen Reporters Mark Cordes Paul Delaney Ed Geary , James Elk Sales Steve Barge Graphics Carol Campbell John Myers DeeAnn Gibb Karen Robinette Front Office Bookkeeper Rubi Geary Debi Labish Rosa Lopez The Editorial Board is composed of Paul Delaney, James Eik, Bill- lffl, John McCallum, Harlan Shellabarger The Cheney Free Press is T h e F r e e P r e s s r e- published every Thursday quests that contributors by the Free Press Publish- observe the following dead- ing Company, William Ifft, lines, which will be strictly president. Periodical post- enforced: age paid at Cheney, Wash. 99004. Published at 1616 OBITUARIES, MEETINGS OF GOVERNMENT W. First Street, Cheney, AGENCIES - Tuesday, 10 a.m. Wash. 99004. CHURCH, WEDDINGS, CLUB MEETINGS, ALL POSTMASTER: Send SOCiaL NEWS -- Monday, noon address changes to: DISPLAY ADVERTISING -- Monday, 4 p.m. Cheney Free Press, P.O. LEGAL NOTICES -- Monday. 5 p.m. BOX 218, Cheney, Wash. CL~SS~E~ED ADVERTISING -- Tuesday, 11 99004-0218. ID PUBLICA- ,.m. TION # 102240 Rates: Addresses in Spokane County, $24 per year; $36 per year outside Spokane County; denior citizens in Spokane County, $22 per year. For other rates, call 235- 6184. Subscription cancellations are non-refundable! HOW TO CONTACT US Phone: 235-6184 Fax: 235-2887 emall: cfp @cheneyfreepress.com www.cheneyfreepress.com By LEE H. HAMILTON '"It's anyone's Columnist An intriguing conversa- g u e s s h o w C o n- gress will deal with this chance to start Lee Hamilton this early point it is mostly at an explor- atory level, but it's no less real for that. iWhere House Speaker John Boehner has conceded that Republicans might accept increased tax revenues, the President has said he would take a Serious look at reform of entitlements. These are tan- talizing signs that last year's rigid partisan stances could soften -- that flexibility, so long elusive, might have a chance of a comeback. As they often do, the elec- tions created an opening, a moment in political life when fundamental questions come to the fore. The question most people in Washington and many outside it are focused on is as basic as they get: Can government still work? In Congress the answer, I believe, will lie with its mem- bers, and whether they correct- ly read the electoral tea leaves to conclude that Americans want solutions, not obstruc- tionism. Their mindset will be key. If the majority on Capitol Hill - whatever their party -- decide to be pragmatic and cooperative, Congress may pull itself out of the swamp of dis- dain in which most Americans hold it. If, instead, they opt for ideology and confrontation, the dysfunction will continue. Attitude is all-important. When members see politics as a steady quest for improving our country and our society, there's hope. That is when they're prepared to ignore all the forces competing for influ- ence on Capitol Hill, and search most diligently for remedies to the scores of truly difficult is- sues that we need Washington to resolve. If, instead, they're locked afresh." in by the dictates of partisan calculation, the rigors of ideo- logical purity, or the constant need tO please funders, then those are the interests they will protect. Even if it's at the expense of making the progress Americans so badly want them to make. It's lanyone's guess how Congress will deal with this chance to start afresh. That's up to each!of its members. But the opening to take responsibility for political progress and set Congress on a more productive course ~aasn't closed yet. It's a gift of the elections. Let s hope they accept it. Lee 'Hamilton is Director oJ the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member oJ the US. House of Representatives for 34 years. Your Cheney Free Press editorial staff John McCallum Editor Main contact for editorial coverage. Cov- ers all Cheney government, communi~, school district news and events, as well as Cheney High School sports, Eastern Washington University news. jmac @ cheneyfreepress.com James Eik Staff Reporter Covers all Medical Lake government, community and school district news, as well as Airway Heights news and some sports. james @ cheneyfreepress, com Paul Delaney Staff Reporter Covers all Medical Lake High School and Eastern Washington University sports. Contact for misc sports. pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com