By Carrie Reierson
Dana Lyons, a singer/songwriter and environmental activist, performed for a small audience of PLU students and community members at PLU on Friday in the Cave. The concert was one of many stops on Lyons’ “Great Coal Train Tour,” an attempt to raise awareness and create opposition for the proposed coal export facility at Cherry Point in northwest Washington.
The concert was part lecture, part music, and part comedy show. The set was bare and stripped down, showcasing just Lyons, a microphone stand, an electric guitar, and an environmentally conscious message. In between songs such as, “Sometimes (Coal Train Song),” and the hilarious, but less pertinent “Cows with Guns,” Lyons explained the negative environmental impacts of the coal train. He claimed that many American Indian Nations opposed the proposal, as did many of the ranchers he visited in Montana. Then, he quipped, “the way I see it, both the cowboys and the Indians are against the coal train.”
This proposed coal export facility, backed by large corporations such as Goldman Sachs and Peabody Energy, would cause the railways from Billings, Montana to the Puget Sound to become overrun with trains. According to Lyons, 50 additional trains per day would flood the tracks, transporting 100 million tons of coal per year. Lyons explained that the additional traffic on the tracks would increase noise exponentially, hinder emergency vehicles, lower property values of homeowners, threaten endangered species, and heavily contribute to climate change.
A small workshop was held by Lyons following the concert, in which PLU students learned strategies for spreading the word about the coal train and its effects.