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Locke On Coal Exports: Set Rules For How China Uses It

File photo of an operating coal-fired power plant in China.

Coal export terminals are in the permitting process in both Washington and Oregon, but they face heavy opposition.

Former Ambassador Gary Locke said there might be a way to export coal to China with conditions.

Nearly half of China’s more than 1.3 billion people still live in rural areas. Locke said his family’s village is typical: one light bulb in each room, an outhouse, coal briquettes to cook over.

“I don’t think anyone in the United States would say ‘well don’t build any more electricity plants, stay in poverty or stay without some of these amenities,’” he said on TVW’s Inside Olympia.

Locke believes the United States should help China move away from coal. But he doesn’t automatically rule out coal exports -- especially if the U.S. can influence how that coal is burned.

“Whether it’s scrubbers, capturing the carbon or even gasification of the coal once it reaches China,” Locke added.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."