Whatcom County / Anti-Coal Terminal Campaign


During the late summer of 2013, the coal industry was building momentum and support for a project which would establish a coal export terminal in Whatcom County, Washington. After achieving preliminary approval, the next order of business for the industry was the procurement of a Land-to-Shore permit from the Whatcom County Council in late 2013/early 2014. Land-to-Shore permits are awarded by the county council who prior to the election were supportive of the coal terminal.


Washington Conservation Voters hired Terra Strategies to build an integrated voter contact program that would successfully elect four anti-coal council members. Terra Strategies provided boots on the ground to educate, motivate and mobilize voters within the small port communities of western Whatcom County. As a result of this effort, the coal industry attempted to run a low-profile campaign in support of the terminal and pro-coal council members. Our task was to highlight our candidates while informing the targets that it was important to protect Whatcom County’s natural beauty.


All members of our canvass team were local citizens who cared deeply about the issues and would have been adversely affected if the coal terminal was built in Bellingham. Their intimate knowledge of the issue and the turf led to the most efficient and effective canvass possible.


The Result


Over the course of four weeks, the canvass team knocked on over 40,000 doors and spoke with more than 10,000 Whatcom County residents. In addition, the canvass team collected over 600 supporter cards that were returned to supporters as a reminder to vote on election day. As a result of the grassroots advocacy and mobilization effort, all four anti-coal county council members were victorious. Within weeks, Goldman Sachs a key investor in the project sold their shares in the project and stated that, "The window for thermal coal investment is closing."