Concerns over proposed rail shipments of coal through Montana, Idaho's panhandle and Washington state before being shipped to China, drew more than 800 people Tuesday to a public hearing at Spokane's County Fairgrounds.
Boise Weekly first told you in February about how some of the globe's biggest mining companies want to ship hundreds of millions of tons of coal through the northernmost sections of the United States.
This morning's Coeur d'Alene Press reports that opponents of the shipments outnumbered supporters Tuesday. Opponents waved signs that said, "Check the Facts," and wore T-shirts that said, "Coal is a dirty, old source of energy and its time has passed."
Boise Weekly reported on similar protests on Nov. 17, when members of Moscow-based Wild Idaho Rising Tide joined Occupy Spokane to rally in the Idaho panhandle town of Sandpoint, where many of the shipments would roll through.
Tuesday's hearing in Spokane included some support for the coal shipments:
"Coal is a job creator," said Ian Primmer of the United Transportation Union Local 1505, according to the Press. "These people just don't understand the facts."
But opponents said they knew the facts well:
"These are the heaviest, longest trains out there," said Crystal Gartner of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign. "And they're the dirtiest and potentially most dangerous trains in terms of traffic."
Washington state officials said they were still completing what they called a "scoping process" through Jan. 21 before they decide whether to proceed with a permitting process.