Carrying colorful signs and hoisting oversized balloon animals, hundreds of environmentalists rallied this afternoon in downtown Seattle ahead of a hearing about a proposal to build a coal port terminal north of Bellingham.
The roughly 300 activists, many dressed in red, gathered in a park outside the Washington Convention Center, where the Army Corps of Engineers hearing was scheduled to start at 4 p.m.
Thousands of people are expected to attend the hearing, which also is being hosted by Whatcom County and the state Department of Ecology.
“We’re here because we need to make our voice heard,” said Bill Moyer, director of the Backbone Campaign, a progressive organization. “Our planet can’t afford to subsidize the burning of fossil fuel here or elsewhere.”
At least five terminals have been proposed in Washington and Oregon to ship coal from Wyoming and Montana to Asia. The hearing today is about the terminal proposed at Cherry Point outside Ferndale, which would ferry 48 million tons of coal abroad each year.
Opponents have raised concerns ranging from traffic snarls caused by increased coal-train traffic to the climate-change impacts of selling cheap coal to China. Supporters say the projects would bring jobs to local communities, boost trade and promote a U.S. resource that Asian markets could otherwise get from Australia.
Those rallying against it held signs with messages like “Power past coal,” “We can do better” and “NO COAL.”
One sign said, “Train, train, go away. Come aga…um…er…never mind.”
A woman in a Santa Claus outfit held one saying “Save my North Pole.”
Moyer, of the Backbone Campaign, powered an oversized polar bear named Snowflake.
The rally was expected to last into the evening.