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Tri-City Business Leaders Caution Gov. Inslee About Job-Killing Environmental Ideas

Inslee's stance on coal exports questioned by business leaders
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Gov. Jay Inslee has been politely warned by Tri-City business leaders his stance on coal trains and exports from Washington state could hurt jobs.

Bill Lampson of Lampson International, Steve Cooper of the Washington State Farm Bureau and Jared Balcom of Balcom and Moe have sent a letter to Inslee asking him to consider environmental policies that could hurt Washington’s economy.

Inslee, along with Oregon Gov. John Kitzhauber, requested the White House Council on Environmental Quality consider greenhouse gasses when evaluating export proposals and facilities.

At issue are plans to build new coal export facilities on the Washington coast area, and expand others. The demand for coal from Asia is increasing due to development and industrialization. The transportation and export through Washington could provide jobs and revenue.

From the Bellingham Herald:

Growing energy demands in Asia could mean 170 million tons of coal are shipped through Northwest hubs by 2022, coming from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana, officials have said in recent estimates. That could mean 32 coal trains traveling though Pasco each day.


While Inslee’s staff claims he was not specifically targeting the coal proposals, his letter to the White House Council seems to target the industry:

The letter calls for a ‘full public airing’ of the consequences of new investments in coal transportation and generation. It calls coal the world’s major source of greenhouse gas emissions, ‘and its share is increasing rapidly.’ The letter also says coal can increase health costs by increasing the amount of mercury in drinking water supplies. Its use can lead to wildfires, increased sea levels and depleted snow packs that western states rely on for drinking water.

Sounds like the deck is being stacked against these projects already. If the coal export plans for Washington are fully implemented, as many as 32 coal trains a day could be passing through Pasco and the Tri-Cities.

Development officials, including those from Tri-Cities who signed onto the letter, say even if the coal is blocked from traveling through Washington, it will still get to Asia, but by way of Canadian ports.


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