September 26, 2013
Red means stop. No wonder so many of the 1,000 people who showed in opposition to a proposed coal export terminal wore red t-shirts to a public hearing.
The grassroots effort helped coal-export opponents outnumber pro-coal attendees 3-to-1 at the public hearing in Longview, Washington. The proposal that has awakened the entire Pacific Northwest is a massive coal export terminal that would send 44 million tons of coal on 16-mile-long trains through Longview every year en route to the coast, from where the coal would be shipped to East Asia. A massive export terminal would do little to benefit the local economy while leaving behind toxic coal dust. Endless coal trains would clog railways, hampering first responders and snarling traffic.
Last week's hearing, which lasted six hours, was first in the latest round of hearings. The Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign has been organizing opposition to proposed coal export terminalss in the Pacific Northwest for the last two-plus years. Columbia Riverkeeper, Landowners and Citizens for a Safe Community, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Climate Solutions, Earth Ministry, and Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility all had a hand in ensuring a huge turnout.
At the Longview hearing, activists set up a "Coal is poison" sign on a 12-foot-tall inflatable globe outside the venue to greet attendees as they entered. Inside, speakers were selected through a random drawing.