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800 turn up for meeting on Wash. coal terminal

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) -- About 800 people showed up Tuesday night in Bellingham, Wash., to learn how they can make their voices heard during an environmental review process for a proposed terminal to ship U.S. coal to Asia.

County, state and federal officials told the crowd that the process of taking public input won't begin in earnest until this summer.

Seattle-based SSA Marine wants to build a terminal near Bellingham that would ship millions of tons of coal from Montana and Wyoming to Asia. The company says it would create thousands of jobs and generate millions in tax and other revenues.

The terminal would be built within the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve.

Opponents say it would harm water quality and herring spawning grounds. They also worry about increased train traffic.

Whatcom County received several permit applications from the company Monday. The project needs various approvals, including from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.