Coal advocates form group

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A Seattle-based trade organization this week launched a campaign in support of proposed coal export terminals in Washington and Oregon.

The Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports' formation adds a new voice to a heated debate over the possibility of routing coal by train through the region on its way to Asia. Coal backers are proposing six Northwest export terminals: three in Washington, three in Oregon. One of the proposed facilities would be in Longview. The alliance lists numerous supporters in its camp, among them BNSF Railway and Union Pacific.

Opponents have pointed to dramatically increased rail traffic as one of their key concerns. They also argue the coal export facilities would bring with them air pollution, coal dust and other environmental risks.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., highlighted possible strains on the state's infrastructure in a recent letter to state Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond. In a response sent earlier this week, Hammond said many of those questions will be addressed in the formal environmental review process.

Supporters of coal exports, including the Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports, tout the potential economic benefits of shipping coal through the region.