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Spin Control

Posts tagged: coal trains

State Dems, in Spokane, call for rise in minimum wage

The Washington State Democratic Party on Saturday approved an 18-point party platform that will help guide the party for the next two years.

The party met for its biennial convention at the Red Lion Hotel at the Park in downtown Spokane.

Jaxon Ravens, the state party chairman, said delegates approved all 18 planks proposed by the party’s platform committee “with minor amendments.”

Among items in the platform is a call to raise the minimum wage. But it isn’t as specific as what was adopted by the Seattle City Council earlier this month: a phased-in rise of the minimum wage to $15.

The state party’s minimum wage position is: “We support an incremental increase in the state and federal minimum wage, with a living wage as the goal.”

Practicing for fire season

Inslee deploys a fire shelter during a practice session near the Capitol.

OLYMPIA — With wildfire season approaching, Gov. Jay Inslee used an annual exercise to push for more controls on carbon emissions, saying forest fires will get worse in Washington if the nation doesn't cut greenhouse gases.

The state is facing what Inslee called “the three horses of the fire Apocalypse” – drought, heat and beetle infestation killing trees – and doubled its wildfire fighting budget this year. The number of wildfires in Washington could quadruple by 2030 if steps aren’t taken to reduce carbon pollution and slow climate change, he said. . . 

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Feds may be struggling on coal port study

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is trying to figure out a way to make its narrow environmental study for a proposed coal port in Washington fit together with the state's study of the global effects of mining and burning that coal.

The Corps had scheduled a press conference this morning to explain its plans for the Environmental Impact Statement on a proposed coal port at Cherry Point, near Bellingham. At the last minute, however, Muffy Walker, chief of the Corps' regional branch in Seattle, said they weren't quite ready to say anything because of need for “some coordination above the regional level.”

The higher-ups hadn't quite decided whatever it is they want to say.

Earlier this summer, the Corps announced it would conduct its EIS process under the narrow structure of the National Environmental Policy Act, focusing on Cherry Point and the surrounding land and water. The state said, however, it would conduct its State EIS with a much broader scope. Washington wants to look at the effects of mining the coal in Wyoming, transporting it by train through many of the state's cities and towns, hauling it out of the Puget Sound and across the Pacific to China, where it will be burned and possibly contribute to global warming. 

Spokane is among the cities facing increased traffic from more coal trains.

Business and labor groups that support building of the ports say the Corps is taking the right approach and the state is setting a dangerous precedent by ordering such a far-reaching study. Environmental groups opposed to the project support the state's approach. 

Unprecedented coal port study praised and criticized

The effects of more coal trains coming through Spokane and the rest of Washington, as well as possible increases to global warming of that coal being burned in Asia, must be studied before a new terminal can be built near Bellingham, a state agency said Wednesday.

In a move hailed by environmentalists and condemned by business and labor organizations, the state Department of Ecology said the environmental impact statement for the proposed Cherry Point coal terminal on the north Puget Sound coast will look far beyond the immediate area when considering the effects of a new port.

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Coal ports: Economic plus or minus?

OLYMPIA – Building new coal terminals near Bellingham and Longview will have major economic benefits for the entire state, a new study conducted for the Washington Farm Bureau suggests.

“All Washington exporters stand to benefit,” John Stuhmiller, Farm Bureau director, said. More trains and bigger terminals will help Northwest farmers, who export most of their wheat and some of their other crops.

“We have to trade, we have to import,” Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said at the news conference to announce the report.

But opponents of the terminals and the increase in coal trains that would feed them say there are negative impacts, too, that the state should study…

 

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Inslee: Coal port study must include routes through state

Jay Inslee takes questions during his first press conference as governor.

OLYMPIA — State and federal agencies studying potential impacts of a new coal terminals near Bellingham must consider the effects of increased train traffic on Spokane and other cities around the state, Gov. Jay Inslee said today.

At his first press conference after being sworn in as governor, Inslee also said he supports restrictions on high-capacity magazines as part of comprehensive package to address gun violence and would consider extending temporary taxes set to expire this year as part of a plan to close the state's projected budget shortfall and increase money for public schools.

On coal ports and the trains that will feed them, Inslee said he was “absolutely clear” on one point: “We've got to have a complete, consistent, reliable evaluation of all of the impacts directly in the state of Washington, which certainly includes transportation impacts.”

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Inslee: No panacea for gun violence

Govenor-elect Inslee addresses a legislative preview session.

OLYMPIA – The Legislature should consider a wide range of options in a search to increase gun safety and reduce the threat of violence, Governor-elect Jay Inslee said Thursday.

“There is no panacea, no one solution,” Inslee said at a press conference during a preview of the upcoming legislative session sponsored by the Associated Press. “But that’s not a reason for inaction.”

On other topics, Inslee – who takes the oath of office Wednesday – repeated campaign promises to try closing the state’s budget gap through government efficiencies and an improved economy but without new taxes. He called for a thorough review of plans to increase coal train traffic in the state, and said immediate changes to the new state law on legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use were unlikely.

As a congressman, Inslee voted for a ban . . . 

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Council calls for coal study

About 40 people on Monday urged local leaders to find out how vastly increased train traffic could cause health problems in Spokane.

After hearing from them, the Spokane City Council unanimously approved a nonbinding resolution asking state and federal officials to study the environmental effects of significantly increasing the amount of coal traveling by train through Spokane. They also requested that a hearing on the matter be held locally.

“As these trains come through, there’s going to be an impact,” Councilman Mike Allen said. “We just need to know the entire ramification.”

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

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