Republican Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead has officially thrown his weight behind a $665 million coal-export facility in Washington state while Democrat legislators within the state and environmentalists have been seeking to bar it.
The proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal is in the public comment period, still a year or two from issuing a final environmental impact statement, according to the Washington Department of Ecology. Mead submitted a letter voicing his support for the project, which would handle a lot of Wyoming coal from the Powder River Basin if it goes into operation.
"I support this project," Mead wrote. "It will enhance infrastructure and business activity, produce jobs and economic growth and increase the country's global competitiveness in all ways."
According to Pacific International Terminals, the company behind the port, the economic contribution would be substantial with 1,250 new jobs and $140 million in economic activity in the area. And that doesn't account for the contribution to Wyoming's coal economy, a major supporter of the state's budget.
Mead went on to warn against requiring a programmatic environmental impact statement, a system that he claims targets coal as it cites global warming and global greenhouse-gas emissions as reasons for not pursuing a project.
Meanwhile, twelve legislators — all Democrats — in Washington have voiced opposition to the project on various grounds, including 18 mile-long coal-trains daily restricting access to a ferry frequently used by commuters in the Seattle area.
"The gravity of the Gateway Pacific Terminal proposal is such that the impacts, both positive and negative, will be felt in all parts of Washington," a joint letter from the legislators reads.
Additionally, the legislators claim that "significant public investment will be necessary to accommodate the project, and much of Washington's transportation infrastructure will have to be altered and tailored toward the export of coal.
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