RICHLAND, Wash. – A campaign is kicking off in the Northwest to build support for coal exports.
The Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports includes major mining companies, railways and labor groups, all signing on to support coal export terminals in Oregon and Washington. The group is launching newspaper, radio, and television ads.
Opponents say transporting and burning coal is bad for the environment. They say coal dust and diesel particulate contributes to pollution. And burning coal contributes to global warming. Critics also say the train traffic will create headaches for motorists and pedestrians with rail crossings along the coal routes.
Lauri Hennessey is with the alliance. She says coal will create jobs and boost the economy. And it can be brought to the Northwest in environmentally safe ways, she adds.
“We want those concerns to come up in all the public review processes and offer our help to the federal government in those processes but also listen to the concerns people have. This is just an opportunity to give the other side,” Hennessey says.
Ross Macfarlane is a senior advisor at Climate Solutions, an environmental group that opposes coal exports. Macfarlane says the advertising paid in part by out-of-state companies will galvanize anti-coal activists.
“They say they want to do town halls and have good public involvement, but what they’re really trying to do is have ‘happy-face engagement’ replace opportunities for direct expression of community concerns about the very significant impacts that will be occurring and the mitigation measures that would be needed to address those impacts,” Macfarlane says.
The alliance says it wants to emphasize the economic benefits of exporting coal from the Northwest. Hennessey says it could create “thousands of jobs” for the region.
Here’s the pro-coal alliance’s ad that started running Thursday on Northwest television stations and cable feeds: