With all this hysteria and hand-wringing about the hazards of exporting coal, we should probably be looking at an even bigger environmental concern: flatulence. But hold that indelicate thought for a moment.
In the latest delay tactic used by coal export critics, the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Yakama Nation and other environmental and neighborhood groups have requested that a “health impact assessment” be completed. These well-intentioned folks want to evaluate everything from diesel emissions from increased train and barge traffic to pollutants blowing back across the ocean from coal burned in Asia. This may be a good idea, but such an assessment would have to be administered equitably on all exports. In the meantime, perhaps I can offer some perspective on their other concerns.