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Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Coalition mounts effort to block coal trains

Elected representatives from Marysville, Edmonds and the Tulalip Tribes are among 15 officials from around the state who have joined forces against a plan that would bring more trains rolling through their communities carrying coal.
Members of the Leadership Alliance Against Coal on Monday announced the formation of their group. They pledged to fight a plan to build a $650 million export terminal near Bellingham, the Gateway Pacific project.
The terminal would provide a place from which to export a variety of goods, including coal, to Asia.
If approved, the terminal would bring coal from Montana and Wyoming on trains through Washington state, Seattle and Snohomish County to Bellingham. The terminal could generate 18 more train trips per day, nine full and nine empty, through the county.
The company proposing the terminal, SSA Marine of Seattle, says the project would create 4,400 temporary jobs during construction and 1,200 permanent positions.
Opponents cite potential traffic jams and coal dust from more trains, along with environmental concerns such as climate change.
Snohomish County members of the group are Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring; Tulalip tribal board chairman Mel Sheldon, Jr.; Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling and Edmonds City Councilman Strom Peterson.
Marysville has 16 railroad crossings on public streets where traffic could be affected.
"This increased rail traffic will have a significant impact on our local community by among other things increasing traffic congestion, creating a higher risk of accidents, decreasing our ability to provide effective emergency response times, impacting local commerce, and interfering with local truck freight delivery systems also affecting the local economy," Nehring said in a prepared statement.
"Tulalip supports job creation," Sheldon said. "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."
Other members of the group include Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, King County Councilman Larry Phillips and Spokane City Councilman Ben Stuckart.
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.

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