AP: Thousands Pack Latest Hearing on Coal Shipment Proposal

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More than 2,000 people wedged their way into a public hearing in Seattle Thursday to voice their support or rejection of a controversial proposal to haul coal through the Pacific Northwest, an issue that Boise Weekly readers are familiar with since our reporting on the controversy began in February.

If approved, some of the globe's biggest mining companies would ship hundreds of millions of tons of coal through Montana, Idaho's panhandle and Washington state before being shipped to China.

The Associated Press reports that Thursday's hearing was the seventh in a series of meetings to allow government agencies to hear from the public and stakeholders regarding the environmental and economic impacts of the plan.

Thursday's meeting, in a Seattle convention center, followed a Wednesday night session in Vancouver.

"Have you experienced what coal dust can do to property? I have," said Toni Montgomery, who lives near a railroad track. "It's a dangerous mess."

In late November, members of Moscow-based Wild Idaho Rising Tide took their opposition to the coal trains to the Idaho panhandle town of Sandpoint.

"I grew up in the Silver Valley, and I was lead-poisoned pretty good as a child," said WIRT activist Cass Davis. "It's never wise to trade your children's futures and environment for jobs. When we start putting jobs and the economy ahead of the environment and our children, we're fools."