Coal trains…

Dear Editor,

A Coal Train Protest Scenario:

Having been out to of town for a while I just recently learned that the Sandpoint city council  had passed three resolutions opposing the increased coal shipments thru Sandpoint.

I think that was a lovely, risk-free gesture that is unlikely to have any real effect on the way the railroad does business in our area.

In my mind’s eye I can see railroad executives drunk on expensive liquor, smoking $100 cigars, rolling around laughing uproariously in their boxcars, or boxers (or both) as they hear of the decision/statement of the city of Sandpoint to request more safety procedures and reduce these shipments.

“Do they really think we care?” Another round of laughter!

The railroads will continue running coal trains through Sandpoint the way they want to as long as it is profitable. It’s the American way!

If someone really cared enough about the coal dust wafting from the trains they would organize Ghandi like civil disobedience.

Hundreds of people blocking the trains by lying down or sitting on the tracks, or for the yoga folks, standing on their heads to stop a coal train and make a more definitive statement to the nation and the world.

This demonstration should include white, brown, black, red, yellow, pink, purple, green and blue people. This would mark Sandpoint as a city that embraces diversity and unity. Hopefully this would put to rest once and for all, the perception of our area as a homeland for pale white supremacy.

Such a demonstration would probably garner the attention of the national news and possibly bring support from one of the large environmental groups.

Of course, a train may accidentally run over and kill some of the demonstrators.  The railroad would, no doubt, unofficially consider these deaths “acceptable losses” much like the military does with non-combatant casualties.

The railroads would then quickly sue the survivors for “conspiracy to restrict free trade”, which as we all know is a large corporation’s God Given Capitalistic Right.

And,of course, the liberal, pinko, bleeding hearts would call for charges of corporate-directed murder.

I don’t know if there has been any measurements of how much coal dust is “lost” per mile of travel from the point of origin to it’s destination at the docks, but given the choice I would breathe none of it.

My first few years of life were spent in St. Louis where our family rented an apartment in a brick building that was heated by a coal furnace. I recall watching my dad stoke the furnace in the basement, and I remember the large bin in which the coal was stored and the coal dust on the floor. Later in life I cleaned a few coal furnaces and their chimneys. Coal has a  sulfurous smell and a distinctively offensive taste when you breath it in.   It really is nasty stuff and not good for ingestion by any biological organisms.

I would not recommend it as a gourmet spice, except perhaps, for railroad executives.

Cough, Cough,

Allan Bopp


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