Wash. coal terminal hearing draws crowds

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SEATTLE (AP) — More than 2,000 opponents and supporters of a plan to ship coal through a northwest Washington terminal turned out Thursday for a final public meeting on the controversial proposal.

Six other public meetings have been conducted around the state concerning a possible coal export terminal near Ferndale.

The hearings are designed to help government agencies determine the scope of a planned environmental impact statement.

Many business and labor groups support the plan, saying it will mean jobs and commerce.

Among the worries are coal’s contribution to global warming and the potential impact to Puget Sound’s ecosystem.

The $600 million Gateway Pacific Project proposed by SSA Marine of Seattle at Cherry Point is the largest of five proposed terminals in Washington and Oregon. The terminals would ship coal from Montana and Wyoming to power plants in Asia.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington State Department of Ecology and the Whatcom County Council scheduled the hearings to identify issues to be studied.

The public comment period remains open through Jan. 21, and then an environmental impact statement will be drafted.

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