Lottery for speaking time at coal port hearings

SEATTLE (AP) - No more paying people to stand in line to hold a spot to speak about a proposed coal export terminal near Ferndale.

At some of the previous five meetings to gather public comment about the project, people were paid to stand in line for sign-up spots for speakers.

The Corps of Engineers, state Ecology Department and Whatcom County have changed that for hearings Wednesday at Vancouver and Thursday in Seattle. The agencies say the names of speakers will be chosen in random drawings.

About 5,400 people have attended the previous meetings and hundreds more are expected at this week's hearings.

The agencies have already received nearly 9,000 comments and more also can be {A href="" target="_blank"}submitted online.