Coal Exports

AP Photo

Oregon regulators’ rejection of a proposed coal export terminal on the Columbia River is just the latest hurdle for the energy company behind it, according to anti-coal activists.

The activists are asking Washington officials to consider Ambre Energy’s finances before allowing a terminal it’s involved in at Longview, Washington. 

Oregon state regulators have rejected a proposal for a coal terminal on the Columbia River that would be a conduit for exporting millions of tons of American coal a year to Asia.

The decision is a victory for tribal groups that said the terminal threatened their fishing. It's also a win for Washington state, said Kimberly Larsen with the group Climate Solutions.

AP Photo

Lawmakers are expressing concerns over an updated report outlining the combined impacts of coal and oil trains that would roll through the Northwest if plans for export terminals move forward.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

State and local regulators say they'll consider a sweeping environmental review of the impacts of a proposed terminal in southwest Washington that would export millions of tons of coal to Asia.

The state Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County said Wednesday its review includes looking at train traffic impacts along the entire route as the coal is moved by train from Montana and Wyoming throughout the state. The review will also study global-warming effects of burning the exported coal in Asia.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

King County is poised to join the city of Seattle and several other municipalities in passing a resolution banning the burning and the transportation of coal in Washington state. 

King County Council member Larry Philips is leading the charge to bring the county on board with what towns and cities all over the region have already done: saying loud and clear that coal is not the answer to the future of energy. The opponents are calling for a comprehensive environmental review of the effects of a proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point near Bellingham. 

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Environmentalists are celebrating an apparent victory in Whatcom County where controversy over a proposed coal terminal seems to have tipped the balance of power.

Four candidates backed by the Seattle-based Washington Conservation Voters appear to be winning. They are incumbents Ken Mann and Carl Weimer, and challengers Barry Buchanan and Rud Browne.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

An unprecedented amount of outside money has been pouring into local elections in Whatcom County to fund both sides of the fight stemming from the proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point.

Four of the county council's seven seats are up for grabs. And two political action groups have formed to try and tip the balance in the Gateway Pacific project north of Bellingham. 

Erin Hennessey photo / KPLU News

Scoping hearings begin tomorrow on a proposed coal export terminal in Longview, near the Columbia River.  It’s one of two Washington terminals that would ship coal from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming to Asia.

Columbia River Tribes Oppose Plan for Coal Trains

Sep 4, 2013

With coal use in decline in the U.S., mining companies have found a steady revenue stream in overseas markets.

But to get it there requires a long journey by train and barge to export terminals along the Columbia River and in Puget Sound. That’s a problem, according to environmentalists and tribes who are calling for more impact studies.

Preliminary work begins next week for an environmental impact study on plans to build a coal shipping terminal in Longview, Wash.

Cowlitz County, state and federal officials will take public comments on the scope of the environmental study between Aug. 16 and Nov. 18. Comments will be accepted by email, through regular mail and in person at a series of community meetings.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Environmentalists are applauding the state Department of Ecology, which announced it will conduct an extensive review of the proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point near Bellingham. 

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has dealt a big blow to environmental groups fighting proposed coal export terminals in the Northwest.

During testimony before Congress, an official with the agency said the Corps is not planning a broad environmental study on the impact of coal exports, meaning the proposed terminals' effects on climate change won’t be considered during the review process.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn likely never saw it coming.

While testifying against proposed coal export terminals before a Congressional committee on Tuesday, McGinn found himself at the receiving end of a bizarre — and, at times, personal — attack.

On the offensive was U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-West Virginia, who boasts taking on “anti-coal zealots” on his website.

The debate over proposed coal export terminals in the Northwest is heating up again after the governors of Washington and Oregon sent a letter to the White house on the issue.

The governors of Washington and Oregon are urging the White House to evaluate the effects of greenhouse gas emissions from leasing and exporting the nation's coal.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber called on the federal government to examine the consequences coal leasing and coal exports will have on global greenhouse gas emissions and air quality. They sent a joint letter Monday to the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

Bellamy Pailthorp photo / KPLU News

It was one of the biggest outpourings of environmental activism that Seattle has seen since the WTO protests more than a decade ago.

At Freeway Park, a giant balloon shaped like an asthma inhaler floated above a sea of red shirts and banners from the Sierra Club. There was also a giant salmon puppet accompanied by schools of ailing herring and a sad-looking polar bear. And a white-haired lady dressed like Santa held a sign that said, "SAVE MY NORTH POLE." 

railsr4me / flickr

Seattle is bracing for a big hearing.

Thousands of people are expected to turn out Thursday for a chance to testify about the proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point, north of Bellingham.

Courtesy of The Bullitt Foundation

Though they say it’s better than any Republican alternative, many activists have been disappointed in the environmental policies of the Obama administration.

Now that the election’s over, we caught up with one of the state’s most prominent environmental thinkers to get his take on what’s in store for the next four years.

The City of Seattle continues to build its case against huge new coal
trains that would rumble through town if an export terminal is built
in Bellingham.

The Mayor of Seattle has released a new study that ups the pressure on
the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Ecology, who are
responsible for the environmental impact study of the proposed
terminal at Cherry Point.

Paul Anderson

Environmental activists are gathering in Bellingham for a big rally tomorrow. They’re trying to stop construction on a proposed shipping terminal at Cherry Point. It would handle millions of tons of coal from western states, to be used as a power source in China.

Courtesy NWF

More voices are chiming in on the debate over proposed coal terminals in the Northwest. A new report adds sports fishermen and tribes to the opposition. It comes less than a week after proponents launched a campaign touting the benefits coal exports could bring.

RICHLAND, Wash. - This week crews are cleaning up about 30 train cars full of coal that overturned near Mesa , in Eastern Washington. The accident has raised questions about proposed increased train shipments of coal through the nearby Columbia River Gorge.

Huge machinery had to be trucked in from the Tri-Cities to clean up the black dusty mess in the rural burg east of Yakima. Car loads of coal overturned and damaged the tracks there.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane City Council has unanimously approved a resolution requesting further study of the effects of coal trains moving through the city.

In May, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing the development of coal-export terminals in Washington state over concerns about increased train traffic and potential harm to health and the environment.

The Associated Press

The Seattle City Council has unanimously passed a resolution opposing the development of coal-export terminals in Washington state over concerns about increased train traffic and potential harm to health and the environment.

Tuesday's vote comes as the federal government is reviewing the first of at least six port facilities proposed in Washington and Oregon to ship coal from the Powder River basin of Montana and Wyoming to thirsty markets in Asia.

The Associated Press

For some it’s the next big source of high-wage jobs; for others, an environmental nightmare: At least 9 trains a day could soon rumble through Seattle, carrying coal to export terminals in Washington and Oregon.

Cities from Missoula, Mont., to Edmonds have passed resolutions that call the idea into question. Seattle is now poised to join them with one of its own.

The Environmental Protection Agency wants the Army Corps of Engineers to do a thorough review of the impacts of exporting U.S. coal through Northwest ports.

The EPA wants the Corps to address the overall impacts to human health and the environment from increases in greenhouse gas emissions, rail traffic and mining.

Tom Banse / N3

Previously undisclosed documents are raising questions about whether the Australian company trying to build a new coal export facility in Longview has tried to snooker local officials.

According to an article in the New York Times, documents show officials at Millennium Bulk Terminals “tried to limit what state officials knew about its long-term goals during the early permitting process last year.”

Tom Banse / N3

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer is trying to clear the way for coal exports through the Pacific Northwest. He’s worried Washington state will block a proposed Columbia River shipping terminal for Montana and Wyoming coal. Schweitzer is making a hastily scheduled trip to southwest Washington Wednesday.

Tom Banse / N3

Plans for a coal export terminal on the Columbia River at Longview are coming under fire from environmental groups. Many of them showed up at a Cowlitz County commission hearing  on Tuesday.