Editor’s Note: Should coal from Wyoming and Montana be transported through the Pacific Northwest and shipped to Asia? In our multimedia project, “Voices of Coal,” we bring you nine diverse perspectives from people across the region with a stake in that debate. Today’s installment: The local business owners.
Tonya and Richard Burkholder own a dune buggy rental shop next to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
A proposed coal export terminal in Coos Bay would route coal trains just 100 feet from the Burkholder’s home and business. Richard doesn’t mind; trains have rolled through the area for decades, hauling everything from logs to gravel.
The Burkholders aren’t worried that transporting coal will harm the environment. And they don’t think trains will keep tourists away from the dunes, or their business. They’re convinced the terminal will bring desperately needed investment to Coos Bay. It will bring in ships, create jobs and diversify the local economy.
“Put aside the coal,” Richard says. “It’s business.”
The Port of Coos Bay says improving the local rail line and building a coal terminal would bring in $432 million in investments.
It also projects this would create 3,132 jobs and $140 million in personal income.
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