I attended the coal hearing at the Washington State Convention Center Thursday, December 13th, along with about 3,500 other people.  Seattle Mayor McGinn spoke in opposition to granting a permit for coal exports from Bellingham, followed by representatives from the Lummi, Swinomish and Tulalip tribes who also spoke eloquently against the proposed coal terminal.  I passed out the JPWA position paper on coal, told people about the need for a Comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS); that Martin and Associates, in a study done for SSA Marine, reported that only 29 terminal operators were needed at the proposed Cherry Point coal terminal in Bellingham; that just last week a bulk carrier slammed into a coal-carrying trestle at a coal terminal in Vancouver, BC spilling an estimated 30 tons of coal into Georgia Strait; and a coal train mishap held up traffic for two hours in Mt. Vernon.

Speaker selection was by lottery. My ticket was not drawn so I was not one of the 75 people to speak. Luckily, the rooms were filled with well informed and articulate people determined to resist sacrificing the PNW to Big Coal.

There were a handful of people in green shirts, who supported big coal, which they perceive as a jobs booster.  They were led to the 2nd convention room.  I suppose it was staged by their handlers to provide photos that might make them seem more numerous in the face of a solid sea of red.

Written commentary will be accepted until January 21, 2013.  Please urge the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a Programmatic EIS, as effects of coal transport will be felt all along the rail lines from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming, through Spokane, the Columbia Gorge, Vancouver, and all the  communities from Vancouver to Bellingham, not just at the proposed Cherry Point terminal. You can use the link below to make a comment or simply ask for the broadest EIS possible, the Programmatic or Area-Wide EIS.

http://www.eisgatewaypacificwa.gov/about/overview

Thanks to all those who organized and participated today.

No Coal!
No Coal!
No Coal!