Editor’s note: Story updated to reflect council vote.
SEATTLE — Leaders of the Northwest’s largest city have come out in opposition to coal exports through Washington. Increasingly, politicians are questioning or flat-out opposing such activity in the Northwest, where there are proposals to build six coal export terminals.
If a coal export terminal is built north of Bellingham, Wash. that could mean up to nine more trains a day moving along the Columbia River Gorge and up the I-5 corridor.
Seattle is the largest city on the potential train route. The city council Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution against exporting coal via Washington state.
The resolution outlines the council’s concerns about what coal export terminals and coal trains will mean for the region.
“The city has a responsibility, both for the local health and environmental impacts of these coal trains coming through the city and also to our commitment to fight climate change to prevent this whole new industry from developing, this coal export industry,” says Council member Mike O’Brien, who sponsored the resolution.
O’Brien’s resolution has broad support from other council members. Seattle mayor Mike McGinn has also weighed in on the coal issue.
“This is an idea that does not have merit,” says McGinn, “and I don’t think it makes sense for us to be exporting coal to China.”
Cities and towns in Washington, Oregon Idaho and Montana have voiced similar concerns over the impacts of increased coal transportation through the region.
The governors of both Oregon and Washington have called for a comprehensive review of the regional environmental impacts before any new coal terminals are built in the Northwest. Last month, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and Sen. Ron Wyden both said the United States should think twice about what the governor called the “massive export of coal.”
The governors of Montana and Wyoming – the states where the coal is mined –- say that coal should be viewed as a commodity - just like soy or wheat.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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