Earling, Peterson join new coalition of regional leaders formed to oppose coal exports

Councilmember Strom Peterson speaks at Monday's press conference.
Edmonds Councilmember Strom Peterson speaks at Monday’s press conference announcing the Leadership Alliance Against Coal.

Leaders of city governments and tribal nations across the Pacific Northwest Monday announced the formation of a new coalition to oppose coal trains and coal exports. The Leadership Alliance Against Coal said it will work together “to raise awareness about the damaging economic, cultural, and health impacts of coal trains and coal exports, as well as take action to protect their communities.”  Among those listed as members are Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling and City Councilmember Strom Peterson.

“The citizens of Edmonds, like so many in our region, are committed to protecting our environment, improving our public health and safety, and building our economy. Coal trains run counter to every one of these important goals,” Peterson said.

The Leadership Alliance Against Coal grew out of conversations between leaders from cities and tribal nations concerned about the impact of coal trains on their communities. Alliance members are calling for agencies to work together to explore the impacts on the health of people living near the rail tracks and the coal terminals. They urge state and federal agencies to deny permits for coal export proposals, as their proposed benefits do not outweigh the likely costs to local economies, health, natural environment, and cultural resources.

The City of Seattle conducted a study that found coal trains could add an additional two hours of gate downtime at major street crossings of the railway by 2025. Similar delays are likely in cities large and small along the proposed route of these trains.

The Edmonds City Council passed a resolution in 2011 opposing a plan to run up to 18 coal trains a day through Edmonds on their way to and from Bellingham, for shipment to China.  More recently, at its April 16 meeting the council unanimously approved a request from Earling that Edmonds contribute $5,000 toward an assessment of health impacts of the proposed Whatcom County-based Pacific Gateway Coal Terminal proposal.

Tribes are concerned that coal trains and the proposed coal terminals would violate their treaty rights and damage their cultural heritage, as well as cause economic and health impacts.

“The risks not only to our tribe can be devastating, but also to the entire region,” said Chairman Melvin Sheldon, Jr., of the Tulalip Tribes. “We’ve made substantial retail investments that depend heavily on quality of life. Tulalip supports job creation. We are one of the largest employers in Snohomish County and contribute to economic solvency in the Northwest. However, we do not support an industry such as this one that we believe will damage our natural and cultural resources or diminish existing jobs in our region.”

“Washington State has been a national leader in creating clean-energy technologies and jobs that promote sustainable global economic development. Coal exports promote damaging and unsustainable energy programs. Shoreline stands in opposition to the proposed coal export terminals and the environmental, health and economic damage that will ultimately result,” said Shoreline Mayor Keith McGlashan.

The following individuals are members of the Leadership Alliance Against Coal:

•    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
•    State Representative Reuven Carlyle
•    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 Brian Cladoosby, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community
•    Councilmember Jay Julius, Lummi Nation

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