Whatcom's big money/coal story has legs

Posted by Ralph Schwartz on October 30, 2013 

It all kicked off in May with a story in the National Journal about "The obscure county election that could change the planet." 

The author of that story, Coral Davenport, made an appearance on MSNBC shortly after.

Do a Google News search for "Whatcom County coal council" (without the quotation marks), and you get an idea of how widely the story has spread, regionally and nationally. Seattle's newspaper and erstwhile newspaper (The P-I) covered it, as did radio and TV (at least via the wire).

The storyline in the bigger media goes something like, "These humble public servants living among the trees in the Great Northwest will decide if the planet is going to fry or not. Good luck, ladies and gentlemen."

The Whatcom County Council may vote in the next few years on whether to approve a permit for the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point. It would ship as much as 48 million tons of coal annually to Asia.

Surfacing this week was a short piece in the magazine Mother Jones. They laid on the aw-shucks Mayberry shtick a little thick, but OK. ("sleepy rural enclave" ... "this county of lumberjacks, farmers and banana slugs") The liberal magazine's treatment was short and sweet, and balanced.

The latest PDC data shows that almost $950,000 is the combined total of the amount spent to date by independent campaigns by Washington Conservation Voters, Save Whatcom, and others -- and the amount received in contributions by each candidate. The candidates themselves have raised $537,000, compared to $319,000 in all of 2009, when a similar slate of eight candidates was up for election.




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