The battle over a coal export terminal near Bellingham, Washington, is a symptom of a profound shift in world economic roles.
"BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- When a Seattle-based shipping company announced plans last year for a deepwater cargo port that it promised would create hundreds of jobs, it looked like good news.
This waterfront community of 75,000 just south of the Canadian border had suffered the loss of its primary industry when a large paper mill began closing down in 2001. Then a nationwide housing and construction boom ended in 2007 when the market tanked.
'The jobs are nothing to scoff at,' Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike said earlier this year.
But Pike's attitude changed when he learned what cargo the company had in mind: coal, and potentially 48 million tons of it a year. That coal would end up in China, where it would fuel the blistering growth of America's biggest competitor.
David Hawkins, the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's climate programs, said that would be a role reversal for the world's most technologically advanced country.
'China is exporting iPads to us, and we're sending rocks to them,' he said. 'It is a scratch-your-head comparison.'"
Curtis Tate and John Stark report for McClatchy Newspapers August 7, 2011.
"Colorado Coal Increasingly Headed Overseas" (Colorado Independent)
"A Moral Crossroads: Why Coal Exports Should Worry the State, Region And Nation" (Everett Herald)
"Whatcom Executive Candidates Differ On Gateway Pacific Terminal" (Bellingham Herald)