Photo by Zachariah Bryan
Mayor Mike McGinn announces a new anti-coal coalition consisting of leaders throughout Washington State.

Mayor announces regional coalition, "Leadership Alliance Against Coal"

Earlier this afternoon, on a very picturesque sunny day at Golden Gardens Park, Mayor Mike McGinn announced a new coalition against coal exports consisting of regional leaders. It's called the "Leadership Alliance Against Coal."

According to a statement, the alliance will call for "agencies to work together to explore the impacts on the health of people living near the rail tracks and coal terminals" and "urge state and federal agencies to deny permits for coal exports, as their benefits do not outweigh the likely costs to the local economies, health, natural environment and cultural resources."

The coal export terminal referred to here is the proposed terminal in Cherry Point. The Cherry Point-bound line would carry 150 million tons of coal annually through SoDo, Interbay, Ballard and further before shipping off to China.

Up to 18 coal trains would pass through the city, each more than a mile long. A study conducted by the City of Seattle found coal trains would add an additional two hours of gate downtime at major street crossings of the railway by 2025.

According to coal opponents, the fear of coal dust and mercury pollution, increased street traffic, climate disruption and ocean acidification rolls over into Ballard's neighborhoods, affecting areas like Golden Gardens and children-favorite Carkeek Park.

"What do coal exports mean for our regional economy. And what do they mean for the health of Washington residents?" Mayor Mike McGinn asked rhetorically in his opening remarks. "... These coal trains threaten the health of our communities, the strength of our economies, and the environmental and cultural heritage we share. We will stand together to stop the coal trains."

McGinn said that there is a better way of improving Washington's economy than exporting coal (which he contends doesn't improve the economy): green jobs and the clean energy industry. He used the example of the Buillitt Center, dubbed the cleanest commercial building in the world, which he just attended the ribbon cutting ceremony of earlier in the day.

Among the people speaking at the event were elected officials from Edmonds, Sumner and Shoreline and members of the Lummi Nation, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and Tulalip Tribes. People from Edmonds and elsewhere had made the journey down to the event.

Councilmember Jay Julius of the Lummi Nation cited concerns of corporations taking over tribal land, the health of fish resources in the rivers running by the train tracks and the fact that Cherry Point is home to several sacred sites and burial grouns. "It is our Mecca, our Jerusalem, the sacred ground of our people ... the proposed project must not and will not go forward."

Chairman Melvin Sheldon Jr. of the Tulalip Tribes had a similar sentiment. "We say hell no to coal!"

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Chairman Melvin Sheldon. Photo by Zachariah Bryan

Here's the full list of leaders:

  • Mayor Mike McGinn, Seattle
  • Councilmember Mike O'Brien, Seattle
  • Councilmember Larry Phillips, King County
  • Mayor Jon Nehring, Marysville
  • Mayor Keith McGlashan, Shoreline
  • Deputy Mayor Chris Eggen, Shoreline
  • Statre Rep. Reuven Carylyle, 36th District
  • Council President Ben Stuckart, Spokane
  • Mayor Dave Earling, Edmonds
  • Councilmember Strom Peterson, Edmonds
  • Councilmember Nancy M. Dumas, Sumner
  • Mayor Steve Bonkowski, Bainbridge Island
  • Chairman Melvin Sheldon, Jr., Tulalip Tribes
  • Chairman Briand Cladoosby, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community
  • Councilmember Jay Julius, Lummi Nation

Zachariah Bryan can be reached at zachb@robinsonnews.com

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