Hundreds of supporters and opponents of a plan to ship coal to a northwest Washington terminal gathered Thursday in Seattle for the final public meeting on the controversial proposal.

Six other public meetings were held throughout the state concerning a possible coal export terminal near Ferndale.

Those opposed to the idea staged an outdoor protest at a park near the Washington State Convention Center, where the Seattle meeting is being held. Among the worries are coal's contribution to global warming and the potential impact to the Puget Sound's ecosystem.

Labor unions representing construction trades also gathered at the Convention Center, saying coal shipments will require expanded port facilities, which will boost jobs in the region.

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