Yesterday afternoon, the most populous and economically dynamic county in Washington stood up to coal exports in a big way.

The King County Council issued a strongly-worded resolution taking direct aim at coal. The official statement expresses deep concern about coal export terminal proposals and calls for a broad review of the impacts on Washington and beyond. It calls on the federal government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and review leasing practices in the Powder River Basin. The resolution is, I believe, one of the strongest anti-coal statements yet seen from a local government in the Northwest.

Remarkably, the motion passed unanimously. Although the council is nominally nonpartisan, four of the nine members are Republican-aligned (of whom three were in attendance).

  • Conservative council member Reagan Dunn was successful in amending the resolution, modestly reducing the force of the statement. Yet even as he did so, Dunn made a heartfelt statement that coal no longer has any place as a source of electrical power in the US, and he drew attention to the coal-derived air pollution he has witnessed firsthand abroad.

    The resolution was authored by council member Larry Phillips who deserves much credit for prompting King County to adopt a leadership position on coal. His evident passion for climate action, along with his considerable persistence and that of his staff, were key to the resolution’s strength and broad bipartisan support.

    The press release is here.