New Poll Shows Support for Coal Export Facilities


According a report by Oregon Public Broadcasting American coal companies are looking to the Northwest as the fastest way to bring their product from the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana to Asian markets. There are now six new export terminals proposed to be built along the Northwest coast in Washington and Oregon.

If these terminals are approved, that could mean more than 100 million tons of coal traveling by rail across Idaho, Washington and Oregon every year. Public health experts are raising concerns about what the additional coal train traffic could mean for human health.

However, a recent poll indicates a majority of voters in Washington and Oregon support coal exports and by a 3:1 margin believe proposed facilities should be reviewed by government on an individual not region-wide basis.

That finding is included in poll results released yesterday by Mike Elliott, chair of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, Herb Krohn of the United Transportation Union, John Mohlis of the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council, and Randy Russ of the United Transportation Union. These findings are consistent with information released publicly in July by Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) showing 2:1 support for coal exports in the Northwest.

In a letter releasing the results, the labor leaders wrote, “Given all the noise being made by export opponents, we thought it was very important for people with a direct stake in this debate – workers, businesses and elected officials – to understand that by a 2:1 ratio, voters in both states support coal exports.   Voters know what we know – new bulk shipping terminals and coal exports will put people back to work, will generate badly needed revenue for government services, and can be developed in an way that is environmentally responsible,” the letter stated.

Among key findings of the poll:

– 54.5 percent of those in Oregon and 56.6 percent of those in Washington State support the export of coal.

– 74 percent of Oregonians and 78 percent of Washingtonians believe the proposed export facilities should be reviewed and evaluated individually, rather than in one broad review that would be precedent-setting and have huge implications for other industries.

– 80 percent of voters in each state believe rail and barge traffic are signs of economic growth and they are not worried about increased traffic.

The survey was conducted by Gallatin Public Affairs on September 26-27, 2012. The sample size for the Washington State survey was 500 likely voters yielding a margin of error of +/- 4.38 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. The Oregon State survey was conducted among 400 likely voters yielding a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent also at the 95 percent confidence level.

The Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports includes 50 members, representing 395,863 workers and 41,658 businesses across Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana, and continues to grow. The Alliance is dedicated to educating the public about the economic benefits of new shipping terminals and coal exports in Northwest states. The proposed facilities would bring in thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue for schools and other services in local communities.

Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports

206.268.2253 |


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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