Coal

Published on September 27th, 2017 | by Steve Hanley

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Washington Puts Kibosh On Coal Export Plan

September 27th, 2017 by  

Don’t let the headline fool you. We are talking about the state of Washington here, not the toxic political swamp known as Washington, D.C. Regulators in the state of Washington have denied a permit to Millennium Bulk Terminals for a coal export facility located on the Columbia River in the town of Longview, about two and a half hours north of Portland, Oregon.

coal export facilityAn environmental impact study by the Washington Department of Ecology found the coal shipment facility, which would transship 44 million tons of coal annually to customers in Asian markets, would spew 7.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the skies over Washington over a 20-year span. That’s the equivalent to adding 8 million automobiles to the area.

“After extensive study and deliberation, I am denying Millennium’s proposed coal export project,” Washington Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon said in a press statement. “There are simply too many unavoidable and negative environmental impacts for the project to move forward.”

Millennium Bulk Terminals hasn’t been getting a lot of love from Washington state officials lately. Earlier this year, the Washington Department of Natural Resources rejected its request to lease the land necessary to construct a dock between the terminal and the Columbia River. It found Millennium failed to properly answer questions about the structure of the dock as well as questions about the overall financial viability of the project. Millennium is appealing that decision in court.

Potentially, it could also appeal the Department of Ecology decision, but Jan Hasselman, an attorney for Seattle-based Earthjustice, thinks the legal odds against the company are quite high. The department found the project would cause significant and unavoidable harm in nine environmental areas. That means a court would have to rule in Millennium’s favor on each of the nine independent areas in order to overturn the denial.

“I think this really ends the conversation around coal export, and it ends it with a firm punctuation mark that these are bad choices for our region,” Hasselman said. “They harm people, they harm water quality, they don’t make sense.”

The coal dock in Longview was originally part of a slew of proposals by energy companies to ship coal from western states to foreign markets. Back in 2010, Arch Coal, Ambre Energy, and Peabody Energy anticipated a 40% increase in demand, particularly in China, which was building hundreds of coal-fired generating plants. But the business climate has changed, led by China’s sharp turn away from coal and toward renewable energy. Arch Coal, which was part of the Longview scheme, has since filed for bankruptcy.

The coal terminal was bitterly opposed by local residents and environmental groups. “This a major victory for activists who have been fighting for seven years to stop the coal export terminal in Longview,” says Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, senior organizer with Columbia Riverkeeper. “Today’s victory came after 260,000 public comments were submitted in opposition to this permit, and it’s a relief to know that agencies are responding to not only overwhelming opposition from the public but also their own facts and their own science.”

It looks like this most recent action by the state of Washington represents yet another nail in the coffin of the US coal industry, despite the bombast and blather of the #FakePresident in the other Washington.

Source: Think Progress





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About the Author

writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island. You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter. "There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." Elie Wiesel



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