Coal foes suffer setback in fight against exports

Grist| A Beacon in the Smog, June 19, 2013
By John Upton

Bad news for climate hawks, coal haters, and Northwesterners who don’t like breathing coal dust: The Army Corps of Engineers says it won’t consider climate change or other big-picture issues when it reviews the environmental impacts of proposed coal export terminals.

Plans are afoot to build or expand coal export facilities at three ports in the Pacific Northwest. The governors of Oregon and Washington, other elected leaders in the states, and enviros have all been calling for the Army Corps to do a comprehensive study considering the wide-ranging, cumulative impacts of a big coal export push through the region — including coal dust, diesel exhaust, railroad and port congestion, road traffic, water pollution, and, yes, climate change.

But this week, the Army Corps said no. From the Associated Press:

[A] top agency official said Tuesday that a more sweeping study to include all three terminals and impacts further afield was not appropriate.

“Many of the activities of concern to the public, such as rail traffic, coal mining, shipping coal outside of U.S. territory, and the ultimate burning of coal overseas, are outside the Corps’ control and responsibility,” the agency’s acting chief of regulatory affairs, Jennifer Moyer, said in testimony submitted to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

It’s not like “the public” is asking for much — just for the corps to take its responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act seriously and review all of the impacts of the planned export rush. Instead, it’s taking a very limited view. From the McClatchy news service:

“The corps will limit its focus on emissions to those associated with construction of the facilities,” Jennifer Moyer … told lawmakers. “The effects of burning of coal in Asia or wherever it may be is too far to affect our action.”

Coal exports have become a big target for climate activists; if they can keep export terminals from being built, that will help keep coal in the ground, because domestic demand for coal has declined markedly in recent years. Activist opposition may have helped kill three of six proposed export terminal proposals in the Northwest since last year.

Read more…

About coalfreegorge

Coal is rearing its head again the Columbia Gorge. The new threat comes in the form of proposals to export coal from Wyoming to coal-fired power plants in China. The coal would be transported via uncovered rail cars through the Columbia Gorge. Many Columbia Gorge Communities in Oregon and Washington support a coal-free world, beginning at home, in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge, recognizing the importance of people determining what materials are allowable for transport through their communities and watersheds. This blog exists to communicate and advocate for the public interest in issues pertaining to coal transport in the Columbia River Gorge, providing an online outlet for honest discussion and information. To inform and unite local citizens about the damaging effects of coal transport through our communities. To endorse positive and considerate dialogue with the aim of mutual understanding among diverse parties. CLEAN AIR HEALTHY COMMUNITIES NO COAL EXPORTS STOP COAL IN ITS TRACKS
This entry was posted in Coal Dust, Coal Exports, coal terminals, Environment, Pollution and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s