King County Council Resolution Calls for Coal Ban in Wash. State

Dec 2, 2013

King County is poised to join the city of Seattle and several other municipalities in passing a resolution banning the burning and the transportation of coal in Washington state. 

King County Council member Larry Philips is leading the charge to bring the county on board with what towns and cities all over the region have already done: saying loud and clear that coal is not the answer to the future of energy. The opponents are calling for a comprehensive environmental review of the effects of a proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point near Bellingham. 

“I think it’s getting increasingly difficult to ignore or avoid, or otherwise deny this issue if you’re at all observant of weather patterns here and around the world,” said Philips, who chairs the council's Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee.

The resolution has been in the works for some time, but had been postponed by the election and budget hearings. Now, Philips hopes it will pass out of committee and be heard by the full council next week.

That sentiment is echoed by the Seattle-based think tank Sightline, which has been tracking the issue.

“And it turns out the math is pretty unforgiving when you add up the length of the trains and the speed at which they travel," said Eric de Place with Sightline. "We know for a fact that they will shut down streets in urban areas by two, three hours a day, every day, 365 days per year."

Trains carrying coal would travel along a U-shaped route on their way to Oregon.

Coal terminal proponents want the jobs they say it will create. But critics say those jobs are likely temporary while the greenhouse gas emissions created by coal exports would stick around for decades to come.