Update, 1:45 p.m. on Oct. 10:
The Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports has issued the following statement:
“The statements made by the individual in the recording do not reflect the values or the views of the Alliance or its members. As companies and members of the community, who operate and have employees in this region, we’re committed to a respectful and productive dialogue with the citizens of Washington and of the Northwest around these issues.
“It’s unfortunate that a blogger would eavesdrop on a private conversation rather than conducting a straight-forward interview. The Alliance welcomes a robust and straight-forward discussion on these issues. We support the expansion of ports because it will increase our trade with Asia and grow our economy. Investment from coal makes this expansion of trade possible, and American coal will continue to be an important fuel source for this country and the world for the foreseeable future.”
A top spokeswoman for the push to expand Washington state coal exports joked about Seattle in a private discussion about strategy with a boss last month, according to a recording published this week.
The spokeswoman, Lauri Hennessey, apparently told Arch Coal senior vice president Matt Ferguson that the Seattle area is “so weird” and called the situation here “wacky.”
She also said that somebody from Peabody Energy once scolded her for telling a Seattle journalist that the coal companies are concerned about climate change.
Arch Coal and Peabody Energy are among several companies pushing for a trio of proposals to expand coal exports from the Pacific Northwest to Asia. In Washington state, terminals have been proposed for Cherry Point in Whatcom County and Longview in Cowlitz County.
Hennessy, vice president at Edelman and spokeswoman for the Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports, was apparently recorded last month at Platt’s 36th Annual Coal Marketing Days in Philadelphia.
The recorded exchange between industry insiders was not particularly groundbreaking. Still, local environmental groups pounced on the recording.
“Who is coal flack Lauri Hennessey and why should be we believe anything she says?,” wrote Richard Ellmeyer in an email to supporters. “We SHOULDN’T.”