I’m so tired of talking about coal I’m afraid that’s what might end up in my Hanukah stocking. But there’s no dearth of actions to be taken on this issue, which is so huge in the pacific northwest right now, with large projects on the table including Morrow Pacific, Millennium Bulk Coal Export in Vancouver, and Gateway Pacific in Bellingham. Coal export is, as I’ve written about repeatedly, something of a dirty secret when it comes to balancing our carbon emission sheets: some state and federal officials, and the president himself, don’t seem to be fully forthcoming on the fact that the US admits it’s got a coal problem, but somehow views sending our coal out of the country for other people to burn as not our problem. Except, as we all know, our atmosphere does not recognize boundaries. Coal export is an issue we need to aggressively go after; even as we move our own country’s utilities away from coal, we threaten to undermine this positive transition if we keep sending this stored carbon elsewhere for release.
There are several signs that both the environmental pressure and market forces are aligning in favor of reducing the impetus to build these terminals (see Action 46). An article in yesterday’s Seattle Times highlights the last few years as an economic downturn in the Asian market for coal, with export prices down 40% from 2011. In the last several months, several major coal export terminal proposals have been abandoned in the pacific northwest, and this list was just added to in August with the loss of the proposal for the New Elk Coal export terminal in Corpus Christi, Texas, which cited decline in the coal market as the reason for their early termination of the lease. With these indicators adding poor economics to a laundry list of issues with these terminals including carbon emissions, traffic congestion, public health and safety, now is definitely the time to keep the pressure on in convincing our public officials that coal export does not work out on our, or our planet’s, balance sheets.
Right now, the Millennium Coal Export terminal, which is proposing to export 44 million tons of coal each year out of Longview, WA, is in its public comment period. Written comments will be accepted through November 18 and multiple hearings are planned throughout the state. Comments can be submitted at the Department of Ecology Website for the project or in person at the hearings. You can even take the easy peasy route set up by the nonprofit group Power Past Coal and personalize their template that they have all set up to send to the Department of Ecology, the Army Corps of Engineers, and Cowlitz County Commissioners, right here. Now is a great time to take just a few minutes to let regulators know that we don’t want coal for the holidays, nor do we want to present it to anyone else.