Fight intensifies over NW coal exports

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Associated Press

Posted on November 5, 2012 at 8:54 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 5 at 11:01 AM

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — The progressive college town of Bellingham, Washington, is known for its stunning scenery, access to the outdoors and eclectic mix of aging hippies and students. But lately it's turned into a battleground in the debate over whether the Pacific Northwest should become the hub for exporting U.S. coal to Asia.

Five ports proposed for Washington and Oregon could ship as much as 140 million tons of coal, mostly from the Rockies, where it could travel by rail through communities such as Spokane, Seattle and Eugene, Ore., before being loaded onto ships bound for Asia.

The Cherry Point marine terminal would be the largest coal-export port in the U.S., exporting up to 54 million tons of bulk commodities, mostly coal.

With so much at stake, critics and supporters have intensified their pitches in recent weeks, running TV and radio spots, doorbelling homes and turning to phone banks and social media to rally support for their side.

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