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Washington Labor Leader Counts Jobs As Coal’s Big Benefit

Jan. 30, 2013 | EarthFix
CONTRIBUTED BY:
Katie Campbell,
Ashley Ahearn

VIDEO:


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  • Years of driving a public bus has helped Mark Lowry learn all about his community of Bellingham, Wash. As a labor council leader, Lowry says, he knows that building a coal export terminal near by will deliver much-needed jobs. credit: Katie Campbell
  • Mark Lowry is a bus driver and union leader who lives in Bellingham, Wash. He's seen hear speaking at a rally in support of a proposed coal export terminal near his home city. credit: Katie Campbell
Years of driving a public bus has helped Mark Lowry learn all about his community of Bellingham, Wash. As a labor council leader, Lowry says, he knows that building a coal export terminal near by will deliver much-needed jobs. | credit: Katie Campbell | rollover image for more
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Editor’s Note: Should coal from Wyoming and Montana be transported through the Pacific Northwest and shipped to Asia? In our multimedia project, “Voices of Coal,” we bring you nine diverse perspectives from people across the region with a stake in that debate. Today’s installment: The labor leader.

Mark Lowry has driven a bus for almost 20 years in Bellingham, Wash. He takes pride in his job. He also worries blue-collar jobs like his are getting harder to come by.

Lowry is the Northwest Washington Central Labor Council president. It represents 19,000 union-member households in Whatcom, Skagit, and San Juan counties. The council supports construction of the Gateway Pacific Terminal near Bellingham.

At maximum build-out the terminal could handle 54 million tons of bulk cargo. Forty-eight tons million tons would be coal. That would make it the largest proposed coal export terminal on the West Coast. For Lowry, the Gateway Pacific Terminal is a source of hope, even though he wishes it wasn’t coal that was being exported.

Coal By The Numbers

  • In their economic analysis, proponents of the Gateway Pacific Terminal say it would create 430 direct jobs with an average salary of $94,900
  • The report also projects $11.2 million in state and local tax revenue would be generated by the terminal annually
  • Whatcom County unemployment rate: 6.9 percent
  • Skagit County unemployment rate: 9.1 percent
  • San Juan County unemployment rate: 6.7 percent
  • National unemployment rate: 7.6 percent

Sources: Martin Associates, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for December, 2012.

Click any image below to visit Voices of Coal.

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