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No surprises; coal opponents overwhelm Seattle public meeting
At the public scoping meeting in Seattle for the proposed coal export terminal near Bellingham, there were few surprises.
Opposition to the terminal was overwhelming. In an ocean of red anti-coal shirts, only a few pro-terminal green shirts could be spotted. (This reporter lost the memo, apparently, but thankfully wore a neutral blue collared shirt.)
Also, true to the forecast, the numbers were huge. Almost every inch of space was needed in the two rooms at the Washington State Convention Center, where the meeting was rescheduled to after the previous venue was deemed too small. Over 2,000 people were in attendance; possibly over 3,000.
And before the meeting, there was a rally, and there were chants, and there were funny signs and people dressed up in funny ways. People held up their cameras and iPhones and even iPads to take pictures of all the people and the energy. Outside of the meeting rooms in a lobby area, a group of five staged a silent sitting protest with signs around their necks.
It was exactly what everyone expected. Which is to say, a very vocal group in Seattle and nearby places sent a very clear message: Seattle doesn't want coal.
Pro-terminal advocates were tame and generally didn't interact much with others. No big fights broke out, though there were a few energetic coal opponents who tried to engage them in debate.
Not much new was said that hasn't already been said.
Mayor Mike McGinn took the stage and spoke about his plan to commission a study on the economic impacts of the proposed terminal and the potential coal trains -- up to 18 -- it could bring through Seattle. (We reported on that here.) He was joined on stage by City Councilmembers Richard Conlin, Sally Clark, Mike O'Brien, Jean Godden and King County Executive Dow Constantine, representing the city's unanimous opposition to the terminal.
Likewise, Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36) spoke about how he wants a comprehensive, state-wide review of the economic impacts. (We first covered his demand for this here.)
At least in the room this reporter was in, there was no one in support of the terminals who spoke before the lottery for general speakers began.
After dignitaries spoke, which included representatives from Native American tribes expressing their opposition, general speakers were drawn from a lottery to make up to two minutes worth of comments.
Liz Talley, a Ballard-area community activist who has been active in the anti-coal campaign, also made a speech. (You can read more about her actions and about coal in the cover story we did a few months ago.)
Seattle's public scoping meeting was the last one to be held. Comments can still be made through Jan. 21 at http://www.eisgatewaypacificwa.gov/get-involved/comment
We also took some photos. You can view them either by clicking the main picture above or the thumbnails below.
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