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Last night in Seattle the seventh and final scoping hearing for the proposed Maritime Pacific coal mega port at Cherry Point. An overflow crowd came to the hearing with an overwhelming majority in opposition to the project with opponents wearing read and proponents wearing green.  

Coal-export hearing packed, mostly by opponents

By Craig Welch and Brian M. Rosenthal

But with the vast majority of the crowd and speakers decked out in red anti-coal shirts, discussion often centered on more than just the so-called Gateway Pacific Terminal. It included concerns about the ecological risks of other proposed Northwest coal ports, from the Oregon side of the Columbia River to southwest Washington.

If all those terminals were built, they would ship more than 140 million tons of coal a year to China and elsewhere, making the Northwest the country's largest exporter of the fossil fuel.

Speakers worried about health risks from diesel fumes and coal dust or from the pollutants that would waft across the Pacific Ocean when the coal was burned in China, India or some place else. A Muslim woman spoke about how her faith urged care for the planet. A cowboy who drove straight from his Montana ranch complained about having to drive so far to be heard. One speaker sang a dirge, another banged a drum and a group of grandmothers testified in jingles.

"Oh we're a gaggle of grannies, urging you off of your fannies," they sang during their testimony. "We're raising our voice, we need a new choice: no more coal."

     The Raging Grannies sarinanded the panel with a couple of anti-coal songs.


Coal trains on waterfront: Seattle to look at impacts

The city of Seattle, worried at having as many as 18 mile-long coal trains a day passing along the waterfront, is launching its own independent study of local economic impacts, rooted in Mayor Mike McGinn’s worry that a huge proposed coal port on northern Puget Sound could cause much pain and yield few gains.

       Hearing room number two with a small group of MPT supporters in green

          Hearing room number one was a solid sea of red shirted opponents

        The Coal Companies have been naughty this year.

The public'a response was overwhelmingly negative and unprecedented for these type of hearings. I hope all of the critical issues raised by the many people who commented about the potential negative effects this project would have will make it very difficult to approve such these destructive projects.

You can also submit as many comments as you want on aspects of the project that are a concern to you HERE

                                       Snowflake the Polar Bear

Whatever the panel decides the people all across this region have stood up and said we don't want these dirty coal ports. That opposition isn't going away if the panel gives M.P.T. its approval. Our implacable opposition will just grow stronger and more resolute if this one or the other coal port projects are allowed to proceed.  

Originally posted to Lefty Coaster on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 08:55 PM PST.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots, PacNW Kossacks, Climate Hawks, and Climate Change SOS.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sequester coal carbon by leaving it in the ground (26+ / 0-)

    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” ~ John Kenneth Galbraith

    by Lefty Coaster on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 08:49:44 PM PST

  •  Great to see so much local action on this. (7+ / 0-)

    Yes, keep it in the ground.

  •  We Were There.....Fabulous! (7+ / 0-)

    One of the most shocking aspects was the union support the coal trains received.  What fools!  They're next.  

    Haven't they been watching what happened in Wisconsin & just last week in Michigan?  The same railroad corporation they stood up for yesterday......will be union busting them tomorrow.  

  •  From one end to the other (7+ / 0-)

    Although we live in the Seattle area now, we used to live in Colorado, up in the mountains near a deep, hard coal mine which shipped coal to Korea. Every day, the coal trucks drove the twisty road to Carbondale  where it was loaded onto trains which headed to a sea port and thence to Korea.Then it was used to make steel to make cars which were shipped back to America to pollute our air and clog our highways. Now how in the name of all that is decent does that make ANY sense???? It does not. If Asia needs fuel, then we can help them figure out how to live without fossil fuel.

    One should never consider yourself too poor to support the ACLU.

    by oakroyd on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 09:10:22 PM PST

  •  I love the Ragin' Grannies. n/t (4+ / 0-)

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 09:23:55 PM PST

  •  I sought out green shirt coal train supporters (8+ / 0-)

    and had some interesting conversations.

    Several were blank...  there at the hearing only because they were required as employees of coal supporting companies to wear green shirts. One fellow hinted he might be wearing a different color shirt if he weren't on the job.

    One lady was a green home architect yet supported coal trains.  She claimed China is getting coal no matter what, so we need to make sure that Washington State got the jobs.  When asked about the environment she gave me the Fox climate hoax smile.  She wore expensive clothes and I suspect her world is centered around the wealthy.

    A union leader told me that the coal train technology can be trusted to protect the environment.  "I live near the tracks, so would I hurt my own family?"
    I told him that when unions are putting the planet in harms way, many folks who usually support unions will turn against them.  He ended the conversation by saying,"we need jobs.  I need to be tactical."

    My conclusion-  The opposition to coal trains came from  small minds compartmentalized in their own  self interest and unable to grasp interconnection and generational impacts.  

    Unions that get into bed with big coal are not doing their homework about who is funding the right to work legislation.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 09:33:50 PM PST

  •  Here are the Raging Grannies in action! (4+ / 0-)

    Cuteness Alert!

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 09:59:45 PM PST

  •  My take. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    John Crapper, aliasalias, KenBee, Creosote

    I live two blocks above the RR tracks in South Bellingham, and see the coal trains headed to Roberts bank in BC everyday. Needless to say I have been following the proposed GPT coal dump closely. I am even in a photo with Bill McKibben when he came to speaker here that was on

    At all of the scoping meetings their was a very clear divide, one that is also seen in my community:

    The only supporters of the GPT at all the meetings are people from industry, business and unions. Damn near no supporters from the real community, ie folks like you and me.

    On the other hand, the proponents of the GPT are damn near exclusively concerned citizens, ie folks like you and me.

    I see this same divide amongst the many friends and acquittance's I have developed here over the course of my 40 years of life, most spent in Bellingham. Everyone I know is against it, except for a couple of my friends who are members of very wealthy old Bellingham families and hence tied to local big business(one of there family owns 650 acres on the top of Mt. Constitution on Orcas island where the radio towers are as well as man other properties). I grew up with members of the Sahlin family, who started SSA Marine decades ago. Skip, who I count as a friend is a VP for them now and obviously a supporter as well.

    But the divide remains: Basically the whole community is against the project, and big business is for it. It will be interesting to see who wins.

    PS- The local paid spokesman for the GPT Craig Cole lives a few blocks away from me, and all of his neighbors have "No coal port" signs in their yards pointed at his house. In the summer the local kids do anti-coal chalk drawings on the side walks in front of his house.

    My dog can eat a whole watermelon.

    by Cornbread Maxi on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:06:40 PM PST

  •  Some pictures of beautiful people (5+ / 0-)

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:18:19 PM PST

  •  LC - FYI: I tried to tweet this diary and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lefty Coaster, Cornbread Maxi

    it said the tweet was too long.  Not sure how to fix this.   Hopefully you can.  

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

    by John Crapper on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:59:32 PM PST

  •  Thanks for the report Lefty (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lefty Coaster, Creosote, crystal eyes

    your resistance means the likelihood of an east west coal train stuffed thru the wilderness to Eureka has a better chance of going thru.

    As idiotic as that proposal is, it would avoid huge population centers and go to a very poor, extraction business dominated region.

    What is clear is some region is going to be ruined by this, if not you, us, if not you and us, them.

    the loss from each train is incredible..the claim that they coat it is nonsense good only until the news camera's batteries run out.

    Thanks for the update and keep up the great work!!!

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 11:22:01 PM PST

  •  it was a great hearing with the march down (3+ / 0-)

    the streets feeling like a Mardi Gras parade and there were cars that honked with thumbs up and pumped fists.


    without the ants the rainforest dies

    by aliasalias on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:16:35 AM PST

  •  Thanks Lefty (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cornbread Maxi

    for posting about the support to stop coal exports !

  •  Thanks for your report, Lefty Coaster! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    crystal eyes, Cornbread Maxi

    The opponents protesting this disastrous proposal were clearly in a strong majority in Room One yesterday, where many of the 'coal is just fine' people did not even have the grit to wear green, but hid in standard dark-color clothes. Several sounded as if they were speaking for the builders' group that funded the unspeakable Rossi through several runs at the governorship.

    People wanting coal trains also wanted to confine the scope of the environmental investigation to just a few limited areas - Cherry Point, Seattle. But of the approximatedly 225 other speakers, at least two-thirds spoke strongly for extending the environmental investigation to the entire region.

    That is, 225 speakers in Room One; Room Two must have had a similar number, for a total number of speakers of approximately 450, more if you count the Grannies as "one speaker" or others who spoke while bringing students with them.

    I was powerfully impressed with the extraordinary clarity of the presentations, especially since these were people whose chance to speak had been drawn at random. The very wide range of backgrounds and the deep experience of the majority, whether they were doctors, passionately involved children, experts in water quality, chemistry, kayaking, was striking. The Lummi and other Native American speakers were very moving and factual as well.

    And so was the woman who held up a tape recorder to the microphone for most of her two minutes so we could hear just what one of these trains sounds like as it goes by - a brilliant and extremely convincing bit of evidence.

    People could not sign up to speak. Instead, to prevent what happened at Ferndale where the pro-coal people hired day laborers to come early and take all the available tickets, they were given two-part tickets, one of which could be put in a bucket if they wanted to speak, with numbers being drawn at random. That meant at least several hundred people did not get a chance to speak - judging by the bucket I looked into about 6:45 as the event was in its last minutes.

    They could have had a third room if there had been enough officials to listen.

    Pretty tough to be among the ranchers from Montana who paid a lot of money to get here and then found they got all of two minutes to speak. But these guys were truly articulate, making the point that the whole region is involved here. Their land, in the family for more than a hundred years in both cases, will be affected by the 'development' of proposed new coal mines,  construction of new railroads for that coal, and contamination of water and groundwater at a minimum.

    A woman from Sumner with a leading position in city government noted that Sumner is the capitol of blueberry production in Washington -- and that the presence of coal trains will not only bisect that town, but have an obvious and very destructive effect on local farming. And Sumner is just one of many smaller Washington cities that still actively and profitably farm the rich alluvial soil.

    No one mentioned that part of the proposed rail route would pass through Chehalis, which is vulnerable to severe flooding. Guess I will put it in a written comment.

    I thought I'd leave early - but got there at 2:30 and stayed till seven. It was phenomenal.

  •  The Overpass Light Brigade has been collaborating (3+ / 0-)

    with Bill Moyer and his wonderful Backbone Campaign, who created the following signs which they took out throughout your region. If you don't know their work (much of which is present in these diary pictures), check it out here:


    •  thank you guys for proving (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lefty Coaster

      once again, that union folks don't always follow the dirty energy line

      I fear that in many places, if we don't have the money to create the green jobs in our hand at the moment of conversation, we will not be able to convince folks that we want them to be gainfully employed and we want to save the planet.  And sadly, the gov't and the banks are locking up the financing.  

      A thousand Sharkeys are invading a thousand Shires every day across our country.--James Wells

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 08:27:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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