The Northwest has long been a major source of exports. Timber and paper once dominated the Northwest market; these days, it's all about coal. Demand for coal has dropped in the United States, but the clamor for coal in Asia's growing markets has American companies lobbying for coal terminals along the train tracks in Washington and Oregon to transport coal mined in Montana. Coal terminal construction and transportation management could provide jobs to a number of economically depressed towns in Washington state, but environmental activists and public health officials are concerned about the impact of coal dust and increased train traffic. Explaining this coal controversy is Ashley Ahearn, an environmental reporter for KUOW in Seattle, and a contributor to their "Coal in the Northwest" series.
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