Olympia takes position against coal

City Council’s resolution opposes construction of export facilities but imposes no controls

mbatcheldor@theolympian.comJune 19, 2013 

The Olympia City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to pass a resolution opposing the construction of coal export facilities in the Northwest.

The resolution states the council’s opinion, but exerts no control over the shipment of coal through the city or the construction of coal terminals, which in this state are proposed for Longview and near Bellingham.

The resolution notes that it “is expected” the coal would travel through land adjacent to the city’s drinking water source, McAllister Springs and Wellfield, which sits in unincorporated Thurston County.

Councilman Steve Langer spoke against further burning of fossil fuels, referring to coal.

“It’s kind of like burning your furniture,” he said. “Yeah, it keeps you warm for a while, but you end up having a lot less than before.”

Mayor Stephen Buxbaum also was on board.

“For my own part, I am strongly supportive of the resolution,” he said. “I have signed on with other mayors in support of opposition to the coal trains.”

He added, “I think this is of interest to the city of Olympia.”

Olympia resident Peggy Bruton last month submitted a petition from 469 people requesting that the city make known its opposition to coal exports, according to a staff report.

Environmentalists oppose such terminals, which would bring coal on trains from Wyoming and Montana to the West Coast for export to countries such as China. They argue that some of the coal pollutants would come off the uncovered train cars into the environment. And they oppose the further use of fossil fuels that, when burned, cause global warming.

“We can’t afford any more carbon in our atmosphere, and the coal trains would cause a lot of destruction,” said Pat Holm of Olympia.

Coal terminal proponents say the projects would bring jobs to Washington, and if they’re not built here, those jobs will go elsewhere.

But nobody spoke against the resolution at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I think this is an important message to send from the city of Olympia,” Councilman Nathaniel Jones said.

Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 mbatcheldor@theolympian.com @MattBatcheldor

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