The following opinion piece was written by John Mohlis, executive secretary of the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council; Robert Westerman from IBEW Local Union 932; Herb Krohn, Washington state legislative director of the United Transportation Union; and Mike Elliott, chairman of the Washington state legislative board of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.
Right now, we have a choice: Expand our Northwest export economy and grow employment and our tax revenue base, or watch new jobs and revenues go elsewhere. Several private companies are proposing to build and upgrade shipping terminals in Washington and Oregon for exporting coal from the Powder River basin of Montana and Wyoming.
These proposals will provide a meaningful boost to our regional economy and will help create and protect hundreds of good-paying union jobs in construction, transportation and manufacturing.
Not one ton more of coal will be used globally because of U.S. exports, and there will be no net gain in greenhouse gas emissions as a result of these projects. The question is whether the United States benefits or the benefits go elsewhere. If these countries don’t import coal from the United States, they will simply get it from countries such as Indonesia that will be happy to step in. This is our choice: Will the Northwest benefit economically from the growing Asian demand for coal, or will people elsewhere? We believe people here should benefit.