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RailAmerica has told the Port of Grays Harbor on the Washington coast that it is no longer interesting in developing a terminal to export coal.
Permitting agencies begin seeking public comment next week on a proposed coal export terminal near Longview, Wash.
Portland activist Bonnie Meltzer lives near one of the busiest rail intersections in the city. She uses her art to protest against the coal export terminals that have been proposed for the Pacific Northwest.
A coal export terminal proposed for Oregon’s South Coast has hit a setback. Two of the project’s investors have dropped out, according to public records obtained Friday by EarthFix.
Portland General Electric may have put the brakes on one of two coal export terminals proposed for the Port of St. Helens.
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead tours a proposed coal export terminal on the Washington side of the Columbia River. Facilities like this are needed to get Wyoming coal to Asian markets.
While the Northwest's debate over whether to build coal export terminals seems to be at a standstill, the discussion in California's San Francisco Bay led to a decision to reject such a port project.
Wednesday at 10 p.m. A look at the complex issues surrounding the question of whether or not to build coal export terminals in the Pacific Northwest. Photo: Katie Campbell
A lot of the biggest Northwest environmental stories surrounded energy issues. Coal plants in Centralia, WA, and Boardman, OR both faced pressure to close their doors sooner than planned. Those closures come at the same time that Longview, WA and Bellingham, WA proposed coal export terminals to ship the resource to China. Idaho joined in on the national push toward "fracking" for natural gas. And the federal decision to postpone the Keystone XL oil pipeline has raised the question of whether we'll see more oil tankers in NW waters as companies look for other routes to carry oil to China. The national Solyndra controversy raised questions about the certainty of investments in the local renewable energy industry. The wind and hydroelectric industries tried to work out the kinks of how to deal with the times when too much energy gets generated by both sources. And the Japanese tsunami that led to the ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis and cleanup has raised quesitons everywhere about the safety of nuclear energy.
The company that wants to build a natural gas export terminal and pipeline in Coos Bay got a big setback this week. Federal regulators ruled they'll have to start over with the process for permitting the pipeline. Meanwhile, the Port of Coos Bay has been working on a different energy project: exporting coal from the area. The names of the coal companies had not been made public, but Earthfix reporters have now discovered at least two of the companies involved. We'll find out the latest developments in both the LNG and coal export efforts with OPB Earthfix reporter Amelia Templeton.
The EarthFix team has been looking into the many ways that proposed coal terminals would affect the lives and livelihoods of people in the Northwest. Reporter Bonnie Stewart's latest investigative piece focuses on what it would take for Northwest railways to be ready to accommodate new trains carrying coal to the proposed terminals.
Six different coal terminals are being proposed in the Pacific Northwest, from north of Bellingham to Grays Harbor to Coos Bay. The companies proposing the terminals hope to capitalize on the ever-increasing energy demands of China and India. Establishing terminals on the West Coast would potentially help expedite the process of getting coal that's mined in Montana and Wyoming into Asian markets. The terminals could mean a million dollar increase in revenue for a city like Hoquiam, WA, which is equivalent to one-third of that struggling city's operating budget. But the terminals also come with environmental and public health costs. EarthFix reporter Ashley Ahearn has been traveling around the Northwest visiting towns that could be future coal terminal sites. She's gathered the responses from community members, businesses and researchers.
Changes are afoot at the North Park Blocks in Portland. Two colleges — Pacific Northwest College of Art and Oregon College of Oriental Medicine — are resettling near Portland's Old Town neighborhood in the coming years. The colleges will bring over 1000 students, instructors, and staff members to the urban area currently dotted with many social services. Neighborhood advocates hope it will bring increased economic activity to an area that some see as blighted. In other business news, analysts are seeing an increase in small business loans, a good sign of a recovering economy (though real estate trends remain relatively dismal). Meanwhile, the battle over the economics of several potential coal terminals in the Northwest continues to rage, with each side lobbing arguments over the economic wisdom of going forward.
As we've discussed on the show in the past, there are several proposed coal terminals in the Pacific Northwest. While the number of proposals has decreased slightly from six to five, this is still a hot topic with both staunch defenders and entrenched opposition. Proponents say the export terminals would generate revenue and help stimulate local economies. But environmental groups argue the emissions generated by the transport of coal and the coal itself wouldn't be worth the economic benefits. Companies that mine coal in Wyoming and Montana are hoping these terminals move forward to help them meet the growing demand for coal in Asian markets. We'll also get the latest on another developing environmental story: dam removal on Washington's Elwha river. Dam removal started last year. Now, salmon are starting to return to the river.