Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn on Monday announced a new alliance of politicians and tribal leaders opposed to exporting Western coal to Asia from Washington ports.
“We will stand together … to tell our federal and state leaders that we don’t want the coal trains here in the Pacific Northwest,” McGinn said.
He was joined at a Golden Gardens Park news conference by representatives of the Lummi, Tulalip and Swinomish tribes, Shoreline Mayor Keith McGlashan and two council members from Sumner and Edmonds.
Trains already carry coal from the Rockies through Washington state for export from British Columbia. Opponents worry that increased rail traffic would create more congestion and other problems for people living near rail tracks.
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In Washington, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state and county officials will conduct reviews of proposed coal-export terminal projects in Longview and at Cherry Point near Bellingham.
On Monday, McGinn said the coal trains would have unacceptable impacts.
In Seattle, as many as 18 trains would pass through the city en route to Cherry Point, and McGinn said that would increase traffic delays in the Belltown and Sodo districts.
Proponents of the coal-export terminals, responding to McGinn, said the projects would create thousands of jobs and generate millions in revenue.
“We know that a lot of people in the Northwest agree with us,” said Lauri Hennessey, a spokeswoman for the Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports.
During the Monday news conference, the Cherry Point proposal came under the sharpest attack from Jay Julius, a Lummi Nation council member.
He said the proposed export terminal site is a burial ground for tribal ancestors,
“That is our sacred ground,” Julius said. “Those are my great-great-great-grandparents who are resting there. We want them to rest in peace.”
The project review will include an examination of archaeological sites within the proposed development area, according to an Army Corps of Engineers official.
Hal Bernton: 206-464-2581 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Associated Press contributed to this report.