POLLING: Strong Majority of Washington Voters Oppose Coal Export Proposals

Becca Shew News

Results confirm significant increase in statewide opposition as regional ad campaign begins.

LONGVIEW, Wash.–A broad majority of Washington voters across the political spectrum opposes proposals to ship coal by rail for export overseas, according to new results from a telephone survey of 1,200 voters. Significantly, opposition has grown by 18 percent since 2012, and 40 percent strongly oppose the proposals—far exceeding the 17% who strongly support the proposals. Overall, 56 percent of voters oppose coal exports.

The diverse opposition spans all income levels and age groups and includes Democrats and independents, liberals and moderates, and union and nonunion households. Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates conducted the survey in September 2015.

“The more Washingtonians learn about the myriad negative impacts associated with the transport and use of coal, the more they oppose proposals to move coal through our region en route to Asia,” said Beth Doglio, co-director of the Power Past Coal coalition. “It’s simple: coal’s harm to our health, economy and environment are too high. We can do better.”

Also today, the Power Past Coal coalition launched a five-figure ad buy calling on Governor Inslee to stand with hundreds of thousands of Northwest residents against the state’s two remaining proposals: Millennium Bulk Terminals in Longview and Gateway Pacific Terminals in Bellingham. The multi-platform ad campaign highlights the health and safety costs of Millennium Bulk Terminals’ proposal to ship 44 million tons of coal by rail each year through communities in the Columbia River Gorge and southwest Washington. The ad campaign will run online, in print and on the radio until October 28 in Clark and Cowlitz counties in Washington, as well as the broader Portland media area. Listen to the radio ad here, which will air on KINK and KFBW.

Millennium is plagued by financial problems and has come under fire for lying to Longview residents and state decision-makers about the project’s size.

“Millennium hasn’t been transparent with Longview and it’s time for them to pack up and go. They’re occupying the best industrial land on the river and keeping other industries out while trying to coat my home in coal dust,” said Don Norman, a Longview resident and retired member of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 26. Mr. Norman and other Longview residents who live near the rail lines will open their homes to reporters on Monday, October 19, at 11 a.m. for personal conversations about their concerns.

Of six coal export terminals proposed for Washington and Oregon, only two remain on the table: Millennium Bulk Terminals in Longview and Gateway Pacific Terminal in Cherry Point, Wash. Both coal terminals have suffered a series of financial and political setbacks resulting in extensive delays. Three other proposals were shelved or pulled, and in 2014, the Oregon Department of State Lands denied a critical permit for a proposed facility at the Port of Morrow.

POWER PAST COAL is an ever-growing alliance of health groups, businesses and environmental, clean-energy, faith and community organizations working to stop coal export off the West Coast. Visit www.powerpastcoal.org for more information.