A short-line railroad is taking a hard look at opening a coal shipping terminal at the Port of Grays Harbor. This is the third location proposed by different developers in western Washington. It would export Rocky Mountain coal to Asia.

The corporate parent of the Puget Sound and Pacific Railroad

proposes to redevelop a public port terminal in Hoquiam. The railroad anticipates coal exports would be its main business.

Corporate vice president Gary Lewis says the initial reaction during meetings with civic leaders has been positive.

"The project would bring family wage jobs to the community. It will increase the tax base. It will increase vessel calls to the port," Lewis says. "All things the community wants."

The Hoquiam coal export terminal surfaces just as two other projects take more incoming fire from opponents. Neighborhood activists served notice of a Clean Water Act lawsuit against the owner of a port terminal in Longview, Washington proposed for coal exports.

Meanwhile, 160 doctors in the Bellingham area published a joint letter expressing concern about pollution from a proposed new terminal near them that would also export coal.

The Sierra Club had a cautious reaction to the new coal terminal proposal in Hoquiam. "We're tracking it," said spokeswoman Kathleen Ridihalgh in Seattle. "We're supposed to be getting off coal."

RailAmerica's Gary Lewis described the anticipated coal export volumes as smaller than competing projects. "The facility would be designed to handle a maximum of five million metric tons per year," said Lewis. "That equals about one train per day."

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

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