The number of coal export terminals proposed for Oregon and Washington has dropped from six to three. But a dozen Northwest groups aren’t backing down from their call for a regional impact study of the coal projects.
The groups filed a legal petition Wednesday with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They want the corps to study the environmental impacts of transporting coal by train and barge from mines in Montana and Wyoming to shipping terminals.
A coalition of tribal leaders and politicians gathered in Seattle Monday to announce the formation of a new group that opposes coal exports in the Northwest.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and State Representative Reuven Carlyle were among a group of Washington politicians and tribal leaders who announced the creation of the Leadership Alliance Against Coal. The group says it will work to “raise awareness about the damaging economic, cultural and health impacts of coal trains and coal exports”.
There are now five coal export terminals under consideration in Washington and Oregon. Environmental groups, businesses and communities along rail lines are asking questions about the potential impacts of transporting coal through the Northwest.
Some of those questions are about coal dust. How much of it will escape along the journey from Wyoming and Montana mines to the proposed export terminals on the West Coast? And how might the dust impact the health of people who live along the train routes?
Coal mines like this one in Wyoming are drawing scrutiny from the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore. He questions whether they're paying their fair share of royalties for the coal they want to ship overseas.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden was recently named Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. And one of his first moves was asking the administration to investigate the royalties it receives for coal mined on public land.
The Bureau of Land Management owns vast reserves of coal in Wyoming and Montana. Companies like Arch Coal and Peabody Energy mine it, sell it, and pay the government its cut.
More than 2,000 people showed up Thursday to tell regulators what they think should be considered in the environmental review of a proposed coal export terminal near Bellingham, Wash. If built, it could be the largest such facility on the West Coast.
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.
Environmental groups are mobilizing against proposals to export coal through Northwest terminals. That coal would be mined in the Rockies and travel by train across Idaho to Oregon and Washington ports to be shipped to Asia. Protesters rallied in Oregon’s capital Monday. They're asking Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber to block permits for several coal terminals.
Critics say the coal-laden trains would spew dust and block traffic. And environmental groups oppose the use of coal as an energy source regardless of where and how it's shipped.