One Question

Yesterday, environmental think tank Sightline published some great reporting, outing a batch of local good guy PR firms that are working to promote coal.

One of those firms is former Gov. Gary Locke spokesman Roger Nyhus' firm, Nyhus Communications, a supposedly environmentally friendly and liberal firm.

Nyhus' clients include: 1) Move Forward Washington, a group that formed recently to promote the controversial coal train proposal to create a coal train transport corridor from mines in Montana and Wyoming through Seattle up to the Cherry Point terminal outside Bellingham; and 2) Arch Coal, which is working to promote shipments out of Longview.

We'd add that the Nyhus staffer tasked to work on the Arch Coal project is former Dino Rossi spokeswoman Jennifer Morris.

Yesterday, Fizz also noticed this: Democratic state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Seattle), the new Democratic senate caucus leader and brand-new mayoral candidate, held a fundraiser at Nyhus' home. The fundraiser took place Wednesday night, just one day before yesterday's huge public hearing about the coal train proposal at the Seattle Convention Center where thousands showed up (mostly in opposition.)

We know that incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn doesn't like the coal proposal (and has ordered a study into the trains' economic impact on Seattle) and the only other major declared candidate, City Council member Tim Burgess, voted for a council resolution opposing the coal train.

So, today's One Question goes to Murray. Does he support the coal train proposal?

Murray told us:

No, I don’t support 18 mile-and-half-long coal trains running through Seattle daily, transporting more than 50 million tons of coal annually from Montana and Wyoming to a terminal north of Bellingham, where it then will be shipped to China to burned in coal-fired plants that are speeding up the warming of our planet. Plain and simple, that is just not a very good idea.

The resulting traffic gridlock alone makes these massive coal trains a non-starter for Seattle. We already have challenges moving freight into and out of our city, and this would make that problem far worse. And it would cause repeated delays in our transit and transportation system, and make it harder for Seattle residents to get around. That is not good for the overall health of our local economy.

Then there are the very real environmental and public health concerns to consider. For one thing, these trains will run through some of our poorest and most vulnerable communities, where environmental health concerns are already an issue. For another, I think many Seattle residents are rightfully concerned about the harmful health effects of the coal dust that will spread from these trains. And then there are the larger issues of the impacts these coal shipments will have on global warming.

Followup: Is Nyhus working for Murray?

No.

Murray also said:

I do understand the desire of coal train backers to find new opportunities to boost job creation and spur our economy. We do need to do more to strengthen our local economy.

But I do not think this is the way to accomplish that task.