Coal port meetings: Too big to fail?
The proposed coal port north of Bellingham is attracting considerable public interest — probably a lot more than suits the supporters of the plan, which would include building a new facility to export coal (and a number of other products, including grain) to China .
This morning, the agencies conducting a series of meetings on the scope of environmental review for the project said they were rescheduling a Seattle session in order to accommodate more people. The hearing was planned for next Tuesday (Nov. 13) at North Seattle Community College, but it will now be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Washington State Convention Center, which is, in the words of a press statement, "a much larger venue. Agencies were concerned that the community college venue could not deal with the larger crowds they now expect."
The Seattle hearing was supposed to be the fourth in a series of seven meetings around the Northwest. In an email, the state Department of Ecology's Larry Altose provided The Daily Troll a few more specifics on what is certainly a bit of a last-minute switch:
The first three meetings strained capacity at each location. Looking at the original Seattle location, with space for about 1,000 people, we concluded that we needed a facility with room to safely and comfortably accommodate a larger turnout. Our Convention Center space should handle 3,000 or so.
SSA Marine, which is proposing the Gateway Terminal Project, wants the environmental review to be limited to the facility at Cherry Point. Opponents hope to convince federal officals that a larger review of proposed coal ports in the Northwest and their associated effects, ranging from increased greenhouse gas emissions to disruptions from more rail traffic, must be studied.
Crosscut's Floyd McKay has a story on the larger issue of the environmental review's scope in the works. (You can find Crosscut's extensive coverage of coal port proposals here.)
A small step for Kirkland, a giant leap for Iranian-Americans
With its stereotype-busting documentation of the Eastside's impressive diversity, the 2010 U.S. Census opened a lot of eyes in Seattle and the rest of King County's westside. Even so, it's a bit of a pleasant surprise to read, in a good Kirkland Patch story, that Kirkland area voters have elected the nation's first Iranian-American legislator.
Cyrus Habib received 60 percent of the vote in the 48th District race for a House Representative. His bio, on the Perkins-Coie law firm's website (he's an attorney there), mentions that the Bellevue International School grad went on to Columbia University and Yale Law School, and was a Rhodes Scholar.
His landslide-level win is also a bit out of the ordinary for an Eastside Democrat, especially a first-time candidate. As the Patch article notes, he wants to get to work right away on education and transportation. Hopefully, Seattle liberals won't be too disappointed by Habib's plan to set, gasp, completion of the 520 Bridge reconstruction and highways as top transportation priorities.
The smoke around marijuana legalization
The Seattle Times' excellent article this morning on the passage of Initiative 502 makes one thing clear: Nobody knows what exactly is going to happen as the state implements a new regulatory regime to oversee and tax legal use of marijuana. And, as the federal government watches the implementation of voter-approved measures here and in Colorado.
Will the federal government use the marijuana votes in Washington and Colorado to learn something? Or will this just start a new chapter of the longer-than-Afghanistan Drug War?
Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper talked up the positive possibilities today as one of the guests discussing that question on PRI's To The Point broadcast on KUOW. Stamper conceded that, if he were a federal official, he would have an obligation to enforce federal law. "But one of the things that I might be inclined to do is let these two states, with different regulatory systems, serve as laboratories" for better handling of drugs.
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