Concert aims to educate, raise funds to fight coal trains

STANWOOD — Cathy Wooten is part of a group of Stanwood, Camano Island and Conway people who are concerned about a proposed coal shipping terminal that would bring more coal-laden trains through their area.

To raise money to educate others about the proposed Gateway Pacific marine export facility at Cherry Point in Whatcom County, the group is organizing a concert and explanation of its environmental concerns set for 7 p.m. Saturday at the Conway Muse, a concert venue located north of Stanwood at 18444 Spruce St. in Conway. Suggested donation is $10, but children are free. The concert includes a short presentation at intermission about how to submit letters to the state and Whatcom County.

“There is a limited time now for people to comment on the environmental impact statement for the terminal. We’re really gearing up for this concert and hoping to bring awareness to the issue of the coal trains running through our communities,” said Wooten, who lives and works in Stanwood.

Wooten and her husband Michael and their band Just Plain Folk plan to open the concert, which features singer Dana Lyons of Bellingham. Lyons is the author of the well-known Northwest song “Cows with Guns.”

Lyons is on a tour of cities along the train routes that carry coal in the Northwest, Wooten said. Lyons’ concerns are related to human health, the movement of emergency services vehicles, impacts on traffic and local businesses and global environmental issues.

“People in places such as Stanwood are very concerned about long coal trains passing through the city many times a day,” Wooten said. “I’m not against trains. I grew up in Stanwood and I love the sound of the train. But as a health care specialist, I wonder about how coal dust will harm young and elderly people in our city.”

Wooten said she has never been active about environmental issues before.

“Not only do we need to think ahead about how more coal burning could hurt our planet, but we have to wonder how the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks through Stanwood are going to handle this traffic,” Wooten said. “It seems like a potential looming disaster on several levels.”

Proponents of the proposed coal terminal have said the operation would bring many needed jobs to Whatcom County.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

To comment

People have until Jan. 21 to comment about the coal export issue at www.eisgatewaypacificwa.gov.

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