Environmentalists vow to fight proposed coal terminals

SEATTLE -- Three Washington areas are being mentioned as possible coal export terminal sites, but environmentalists say they'll fight to keep that from happening.

Among the potential sites is Cherry Point, but some commercial fisherman, such as Jeremy Brown, worry the coal could hurt Cherry Point's herring grounds, which Brown said are critical to the health of salmon runs.

"Those railway lines cross every single salmon stream in eastern Puget Sound," he said. "The burning of coal is the worst thing we can do for climate change."

Brown helped collect 40,000 signatures protesting the coal trains and coal shipment. Dr. Ginny Wolf of Bow helped him. She worries about the mile-long coal trains and how they could affect patients.

"We don't have the infrastructure, the overpasses and underpasses to allow emergency vehicles free passage," she said.

Proponents say trains are safe and exports create jobs , but bird watchers like Arnie Martin aren't buying that.

"Fifty jobs. We've lost 250. This isn't going to do it. I think it is going to depress housing values, turn the place into something no one would want to live in." Martin said.

Martin is chair of the Shore Bird Festival and the proposed coal terminal would be housed alongside a wildlife preserve.

Martin came to Olympia to ask State Land Commissioner Peter Goldmark for help because he controls aquatic use permits.

But Goldmark told them his office won't face that decision until after a lengthy environmental review by local officials.

A decision on a location for a coal terminal may be several years away. Today Goldmark would only say he'll be watching developments.

In addition to Grays Harbor and Cherry Point, Longview has also been mentioned as a potential site for a coal export terminal.