The Pacific Northwest’s sense of itself can sometimes seem green to the point of parody: a medium-roast blend of piney peaks and urban cool, populated by residents who look descended from lumberjacks or fishermen.
Steve Salvatori, a Spokane City Council member, sees the potential for new jobs in the region.
Now, plans by the energy industry to move increasing amounts of coal and oil through the region by rail, bound for Asia, are pulling at all the threads of that self-portrait.
Last September, the first trains of crude oil from the Bakken fields in North Dakota began chugging through. Since then, energy companies have drafted proposals for new storage, handling and shipment capability almost equivalent to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which is facing a deeply uncertain path of federal regulatory approval.