Meetings about proposals to expand ports for coal exports going to Asia drew strong criticism from residents in the northwestern U.S., mostly environmental concerns. Wyoming wants to increase its exports of coal to markets like Europe and Asia and needs more port capacity in order to do that.
Director of the Wyoming Mining Association, Marion Loomis, says the hearings are part of the process and shouldn't delay the ports’ opening.
“The permitting process takes the time that it takes. There’s a lot of comments and we heard about the protests but those don’t necessarily slow the permitting process down. If they get to the point where they’re ready to issue the permits and then they get tied up in litigation that could certainly slow the development of the ports down, but it just takes a certain amount of time to get those permits.”
Coal producers in the state have given tours to leaders from the Northwest to show off Wyoming coal mines and have joined a group, called Northwest Alliance for Jobs, to educate people about the industry and to highlight what exports could contribute to local economies.