SEATTLE (AP) — A consortium of federal, state and local agencies have decided to prepare a 2-year study on the local and statewide impact of exporting coal through a Whatcom County terminal.

Wednesday's announcement says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Whatcom County will study the impact at the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point, while the state Department of Ecology will examine the effects of expected rail and vessel traffic, including greenhouse gases, statewide and beyond.

The proposal to export millions of tons of coal through Washington ports, using trains crossing the state, has drawn sharp opposition from some elected officials in Washington and Oregon as well as environmental groups.

Proponents say increased coal exports can spur new jobs in parts of the country that are struggling economically.