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Environment | Energy

Survey Finds Support For Coal Transport Through NW

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PORTLAND — “Obama, rein in your regs.”

That was on a sign that Wyatt Fitch held up when the President visited Portland this week.

Fitch was showing his support for proposed coal export terminals in Oregon.

He thinks coal could help revitalize local ports.

“I think if we can get in the coal terminals that it’ll really make a difference to the economy and it will put us on the map as far as shipping companies are concerned,” said Fitch, an engineer at a Portland-area semiconductor plant.

That’s an opinion many share.

A new public-opinion poll for EarthFix finds a majority of residents in Washington, Oregon and Idaho express support for transporting coal from Wyoming and Montana through the Northwest so it can be exported to Asia.

Poll: Support For Coal Exports
By Toni Tabora-Roberts

DHM Research polled 1,200 residents in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

Fifty-five percent said they were supportive of new coal export proposals. Within that majority, 39 percent said they were somewhat supportive and 17 percent said they strongly support transporting coal through the Pacific Northwest and exporting it to other countries from ports in Oregon and Washington.

John Horvick, a senior associate with DHM Research (Davis, Hibbitts, & Midghall, Inc.), said the large share of soft support indicates that while most people generally like the idea, their opinions aren’t galvanized. The poll also showed that many in the Northwest are still forming their opinion; seventeen percent said they were undecided.

So who are these people who haven’t made up their minds?

“Young folks are not tuned into this at all,” Horvick said. College age kids were the demographic group most likely to be on the fence about coal export.

Poll: Concerns About Coal
By Toni Tabora-Roberts

Horvick says the poll showed attitudes toward export that were relatively consistent across Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

“The biggest differences here were really driven by age. Where young people in particular haven’t made their mind up,” he said.

The survey asked what concerns people have about coal transport and export in the northwest. The biggest group, representing 60 percent of those surveyed, said they agreed with the statement: “We should be encouraging other nations to develop clean energy sources rather than selling them coal, which is a major contributor to climate change.”

The poll had a margin of error of 2.8 percent.

(OPB’s Kristian Foden-Vencil contributed to this report.)

Coal Poll: Where Do You Stand?

Pop Quiz: What Do You Know About The Northwest Coal Export Proposals?

EarthFix CWA Survey-Final - Coal Only

(Hover over markers to hear reports on coal in communities of the Northwest. Then click “website” for more EarthFix coverage. Click here for larger map view. Note: Train routes are approximations. They illustrate potential corridors based on existing lines and publicly available information.)

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