Archive for Coal Exports

Coal port hearing in Seattle draws thousands

By | December 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

More than 2,000 people filled the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle on Thursday to voice their opinion on a proposed coal export terminal near Bellingham. Speakers ranged from a 12-year-old girl worried about how global warming will impact “all the things she loves,” to a group of elderly women who sang an anti-coal song with the lyric: “We’re a gaggle of grannies urging you off your fannies.”

Local, state and federal agencies tasked with writing an Environmental Impact Statement held the meeting as part of a “scoping” process to gather public input on the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal. The agencies used a random drawing system to select 150 speakers, who were given two minutes apiece to testify.

Those in opposition to the coal port, wearing red t-shirts, far outnumbered supporters of the project, who donned green and waved pro-jobs signs.

Given the “profound” impact of the coal port, Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, told the crowd he wants a comprehensive environmental review on how the project could affect the entire state. “That means a thorough, data-driven analysis of the realities of these proposals,” Carlyle said.

Others want the environmental review to go even farther — all the way back to the coal mines in Montana and Wyoming.

Rancher Clint McCray traveled from Montana to attend the hearing. A proposed rail line would run through his property if the coal ports in Washington state are given a green light.

“I am vehemently opposed to a private, for-profit corporation using eminent domain to condemn my private land for a rail line export coal to China,” said McCray, who called for a  multi-state, regional analysis of the project.

A representative from Tulalip Tribes said he’s worried about water pollution from coal ships. “Tulalip says no to coal. Tulalip says hell no to coal,” he said.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn expressed concerns about how increased train traffic would affect the city’s waterfront, and possibly pose an obstacle to first responders on their way to an emergency.

Supporters who testified at the hearing said the coal ports will boost the state’s economy and bring much-needed jobs.

Brandon Housekeeper of the Association of Washington Business said the coal port is an “extraordinary opportunity” for Washington’s economy. The state has some of the “toughest environmental laws” in the nation, he said, and Gateway Pacific has committed to abiding by those laws.

If the project doesn’t move forward, Washington might as well “post a virtual warning sign on our border that says ‘Washington is bad for business. Stay away,'”  Housekeeper said.

Railroad union representative Herb Krohn also spoke in support of the project, dismissing the arguments against coal pollution. Coal is a “naturally-occurring mineral,” he said, and China will find a way to get it whether the United States ships it or not.

“All we would do is force [China] to buy dirtier, higher sulfur coal from other nations,” Krohn said.

TVW taped the entire three-hour hearing. Watch it online here.


TVW produced a one-hour documentary earlier this year on the coal controversy in Washington state, called “Coal Crossroads.”

Categories: Coal Exports

Sen. Ed Murray on ‘power-sharing,’ major transpo package, coal hearings & more

By | December 12, 2012 | 0 Comments

Mid-week round-up:

    • Sen. Ed Murray told members of the Seattle Times editorial board he’d rather be part of a “strong minority” than participate in the power-sharing agreement proposed by the majority coalition earlier this week. Senate Democrats plan plan to formally respond to the proposal within the next week, according to the Seattle Times story.
    • Gov. Chris Gregoire told the Associated Press she’s preparing a major transportation package that will be released next week along with the general budget. A gas tax is not out of the question, according to the story.
    • Washington’s race for governor was the most expensive in state history, according to reports filed this week that show Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna spent a combined $25.7 million. The Spokesman-Review has the story.

On TVW this week: “The Impact” profiles one of the first same-sex couples to get married under Washington’s new law. Host Anita Kissee attended their wedding on Sunday, the first day couples were allowed to legally wed. The show airs Dec. 12 at 7 & 10 p.m.

Local, state and federal agencies tasked with writing an environmental impact statement on a proposal coal export terminal near Bellingham will be accepting public comments at a meeting Thursday in Seattle. The event is expected to draw thousands, and TVW will be live webcasting the hearing starting at 4 p.m. at this link.

Also Thursday, “Inside Olympia” host Austin Jenkins sits down for an in-depth, one-on-one interview with outgoing Gov. Gregoire. The show airs Dec. 13 at 7 & 10 p.m.

Ship crashes into B.C. coal terminal, spilling coal into the water

By | December 11, 2012 | 0 Comments

Officials in British Columbia spent the weekend cleaning up coal that spilled into the ocean after a large ship that was docking at a coal export terminal crashed into a conveyor belt, leaving a gaping hole in the equipment.

The accident occurred Friday at Westshore Terminals in Vancouver, the largest coal port in North America. The ship destroyed a section of the coal belt leading to the terminal’s loading berth, spilling about 30 metric tons of coal into the water, according to news reports. More photos and videos are here.

TVW traveled to B.C. to see the terminal as part of its one-hour documentary on coal exports, “Coal Crossroads.” Two hearings are scheduled this week on a proposal to build a coal export terminal in Washington state:

  • Dec. 12 in Vancouver, Wash., at 4 p.m. at Clark College
  •  Dec. 13 in Seattle at 4 p.m. at the Washington Convention Center, Ballroom 6F

TVW will be live webcasting the meeting in Seattle and taping it for air later. We’ll also have coverage here on our blog and our weekly public affairs program, “The Impact.”

Categories: Coal Exports

Anticipating big crowds, random drawings will be in place at upcoming coal meetings

By | December 7, 2012 | 0 Comments

People have been turning out in the hundreds — sometimes thousands — at a series of “scoping” meetings that are meant to get public input about a proposed coal export terminal near Bellingham.

Until now, speaking slots have been handed out to those first in line — a process that has resulted in people arriving several hours early. At a recent meeting in Ferndale, a pro-coal group admitted to paying people to wait in line.

The agencies in charge of the meetings announced today they’re switching to a random drawing system for two upcoming meetings, including one in Seattle that’s expected to draw a large crowd.

Each meeting will have 150 two-minute speaking slots, with drawings at the top of each hour during the three-hour event. People can enter the drawing at any time during the meeting.

Environmentalists oppose the project because of health and pollution concerns, while supporters argue that it’ll bring jobs to the region. More than 2,000 people turned out for the first scoping meeting in Bellingham, while a hearing earlier this week in Spokane drew 800 people to the county fairgrounds.

The next meeting will be held in Vancouver, Wash., on Dec. 12 at 4 p.m. at Clark College. In Seattle, the scoping meeting will take place on Dec. 13 at 4 p.m. at the Washington Convention Center, Ballroom 6F. People can also submit comments online before Jan. 21st, 2013.

TVW will be taping the meeting in Seattle (with a possible live webcast). We’ll also have coverage here on our blog and our weekly public affairs program, “The Impact.”

TVW produced an hourlong documentary about the controversy over the coal export terminals, called “Coal Crossroads.”

Categories: Coal Exports

Gov. Gregoire on coal trains: ‘I’m not going to invite litigation’

By | November 27, 2012 | 0 Comments

How can Washington state become a leader in reducing carbon dioxide emissions at the same time it is considering proposals that would make it the largest coal exporter in the nation?

That’s a question that Gov. Chris Gregoire was asked repeatedly by members of the media during an event today in which she announced an executive order aimed at fighting ocean acidification, which is caused when oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Gregoire said she has no plans to announce a position on coal because it could “subvert the process and the law in Washington state.”

“I’m not going to invite litigation. I’m not going to invite problems by prejudging, or coming out with a policy decision,” Gregoire said. “Rather, I’m going to let the process take place and have every Washingtonian take part in the process.”

The public can comment on the coal export proposals through several “scoping” meetings that are underway, or online. More than 2,000 people attended the first meeting, and another hearing in Seattle was postponed until Dec. 13 so it could be held at bigger venue.

Gregoire said she’s never seen people so engaged in an issue in her eight years in office. “If I make an opinion, it will end up in court rather letting the people get engaged and be informed,” she said.

TVW produced an hour long documentary about the issue, called “Coal Crossroads.”

Categories: Coal Exports

State, federal and county agencies agree to jointly study Longview coal terminal

By | October 16, 2012 | 0 Comments

Three government agencies have agreed to jointly review the environmental impact of a proposed coal export terminal on the Columbia River near Longview.

The terminal is one of five proposed coal export facilities in Washington and Oregon. So far, the proposals are being reviewed on an individual basis — despite calls from Gov. Chris Gregoire and other politicians who want a cumulative review of the impact on the entire region.

Last week, Cowlitz County, the state Department of Ecology and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed a formal agreement to jointly oversee the environmental impact statement of the Longview proposal.

Millennium Bulk Terminals wants to develop a $650 million coal export terminal at the site of the old Reynolds aluminum plant along the river. If the project is approved, about 44 million tons of coal would be brought, stored and shipped overseas to Asia from the spot.

Meanwhile, the agencies in charge of the environmental impact statement for SSA Marine’s proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal coal terminal in Bellingham are holding their first public meeting this week. They’ll be accepting public comments at the meeting, which will be held Saturday, Oct. 27 at 11 a.m. at Squalicum High School in Bellingham. Other dates  and locations are here.

TVW produced a one-hour documentary about the controversy over coal in Washington, “Coal Crossroads.”

Categories: Coal Exports

Watch ‘Coal Crossroads’ right here

By | October 3, 2012 | 0 Comments

In case you missed last night’s premiere — TVW goes in-depth in this one-hour documentary “Coal Crossroads” to give you a balanced look at the coal controversy and the state’s potential as the coal shipping capital of America.

Watch the full-hour long documentary below, or here on YouTube.

Categories: Coal Exports

‘Coal Crossroads’ premieres tonight at 7:30 p.m.

By | October 2, 2012 | 0 Comments

Tonight, TVW premieres the one-hour documentary, “Coal Crossroads.” It takes an in-depth look at the controversy surrounding a proposal to ship about 161 million tons of coal to China each year from export terminals in the Pacific Northwest. Watch it tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Here’s the four-minute intro to the piece:

Categories: Coal Exports

This week on ‘The Impact’ — Coal exports, and how the public can weigh in

By | September 27, 2012 | 0 Comments

This week’s edition of “The Impact” gives you a preview of the hour-long documentary we’ve been working on all summer about five proposed coal export terminals in the Pacific Northwest. The documentary airs Oct. 2nd at 7:30 p.m.

Also on this week’s show — an explanation of the lengthy environmental review process, and how the public can weigh in.

Categories: Coal Exports, TVW

Environmental scoping process for Bellingham coal terminal starts this week

By | September 26, 2012 | 0 Comments

The Pacific Northwest is poised to become the nation’s leading coal-exporting region, but opponents — worried about health, pollution and snarled train traffic — are putting up a fight.

Asia wants cheap coal, and the mines in Montana and Wyoming have it. To get there, the coal must be transported by train across Washington and then shipped from one of five proposed export terminals in the Pacific Northwest.

Starting this week, the agencies in charge of the environmental impact statement are collecting public comments about SSA Marine’s proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal coal terminal in Bellingham.

The 120-day comment period started Monday and ends on Jan. 21st, 2013.

To comment online, go to, or attend one of the following meetings:


Categories: Coal Exports