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Coal Exports Through the Pacific Northwest

Coal Exports Through the Pacific Northwest

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Coal Exports Through the Pacific Northwest

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  1. Coal Exports Through the Pacific Northwest Martin Donohoe

  2. Plans • Powder River Basin coal, cheap, export to China and India (to supplement national uses and European/Australian exports) • Federal land, cheap • Americans own most of Powder River Basin (40% of America’s coal supply) • 2/3 of coal extracted from public lands

  3. Coal Economics • Cheap: • Sold for as low as $1/ton (usually non-competitively) • U.S. price = $9/ton; sold to China for $80 -$123/ton • Uncompetitive leasing and poor oversight have cost U.S Treasury $29 billion since 1982 army

  4. Coal Economics • GAO found BLM’s coal lease program does not account for the higher price of coal when it is exported • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Interior Department, and looking into royalty payment evasion (companies valuing coal at low domestic prices, rather than those fetched overseas)

  5. Plans • 100 million tons/yr • 26 trains/day • 4 diesel engines/train (100-120 cars per train) • 12 barges/wk

  6. Plans • Would dramatically increase U.S. coal export capacity • 2006 - 50 million tons/yr • Current - 127 million tons/yr • With proposals - 200 million tons/yr • Through Columbia River Gorge (National Scenic Area)

  7. 48 mmt/yr coal 10 mmt/yr coal 15-30 mmt/yr coal 44 mmt/yr coal 8 mmt/yr coal 10 mmt/yr coal Total: 150 mmt/yr coal

  8. Health Consequences of Coal Mining • Respiratory diseases (including Black Lung Disease) • Heart disease • Cancers • Low birth weight • Birth defects

  9. Health Consequences of Coal Mining • Depleted aquifers, decreased land for ranchers for grazing, dust pneumonia in cattle and horses • Deception


  11. Accidents • Almost 40 train derailments over last 2 years • 250 deaths/yr in U.S. from all rail transport accidents • Vancouver barge hits coal chute; coal ship breaks in two off South Africa • Mississippi River Barge hit railroad bridge, leaking oil

  12. Accidents • Runaway train disaster in Quebec (2013) • West Virginia surfactant spill pollutes river (2013) • Risk of fires at coal terminals • Water intensifies blaze; special equipment and firefighter training required • State oversight of rail safety and local fire/disaster preparedness weak

  13. Coal Train derailment near Baltimore, OH Coal train derailment from coal dust buildup near Baltimore, Ohio (2012). Photo from Reuters.

  14. Mesa, WA Coal Train Derailment(2012)

  15. The same trains that would carry coal through the Pacific NW– Wisconsin, 2013

  16. Coal-laden ship breaks up off coast of South Africa (2013)

  17. Barges • Risks: coal and fuel spillage, collision, grounding, congestion, emissions, habitat disruption, and fish mortality from wake and propellers • Estimated 24 barge accidents/yr on Columbia, one/yr involving spill of coal or fuel

  18. Barges • Columbia Gorge tourist spending $746 million/yr, of which $233 represents labor income to people who live and work in the Gorge • $1.5-4.5 billion salmon habitat placed at risk • Annual economic value of negative externalities produced by Morrow Pacific barges: • pollution = $17.8 million • Greenhouse gasses = $22.8 million

  19. Westshore Coal Terminal in BC (2012)Photo from CKNW News Talk 980.

  20. Fire at Westshore Coal TerminalBritish Columbia, 2013

  21. Accidents(Preventable) • Sago and Upper Big Branch (West VA) mine explosions/cave-ins • Elk River (WVa) coal terminal leak/contamination • Others

  22. Trains • Large increase in wear and tear on RR tracks • RR limited by federal law from paying more than 5% costs for improvements in at-grade crossings, bridges, tunnels, overpasses • Costs will be borne by local municipalities, state and federal taxpayers

  23. Deception • Ambre Energy mislead Port of Longview (5 million tons/yr; internal documents up to 60 million tons/yr; re-applied at 45 million tons/yr) • Port of Coos Bay admonished by judge for attempting to prevent Sierra Club form obtaining public records re proposed terminal

  24. Deception • Lauri Hennessey, spokesperson for the Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports • Calls the group “a grassroots effort” • Has referred to the sacred wetlands of the Lummi Nation (Gateway site) as “basically…an industrial area”

  25. Deception • Lauri Hennessey, spokesperson for the Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports • Group created and largely funded by coal industry and its allies • Hennessey = Vice-President of Corporate and Public Affairs at Edelman (world’s largest PR firm, best known for decades of work on behalf of Big Tobacco)

  26. Health Effects • Diesel particulate matter: • impaired lung development • pulmonary inflammation and lung cancer • increased risk of heart attacks/strokes/cancer/asthma (ER visits and hospitalizations)

  27. Health Effects • Diesel particulate matter: • increases cardiopulmonary and all-cause mortality • developmental neurotoxin • Perinatal exposure increases risk for autism spectrum disorder, ADHD-related symptoms

  28. Health Effects • Coal Dust: • Up to 645 lbs. (3%) lost per car during transit • Surfactant decreases, but does not eliminate, risk

  29. Health Effects • Coal Dust: • Chronic bronchitis/emphysema/pulmonary fibrosis • Exposure to heavy metals • 3-fold increased risk of cancer in coal terminal workers in Australia • Organic gardeners/farmers

  30. “Plumes of coal dust can often be seen from passing coal trains. When standing near the rail lines, I have often had to avert my face when a loaded coal train passes to avoid being pelted with coal particles.” William VanHook, Assistant VP, BNSF

  31. Coal Dust Escape645 lbs without surfactant97 lbs with surfactantBNSF Study

  32. Health Effects • Noise: • Cardiovascular disease (heart attacks, increased BP, arrhythmias) • Stroke • Cognitive impairment in children • Exacerbation of mental health disorders • Sleep disturbance (fatigue, HTN, arrhythmias, accidents and injuries)

  33. Health and Environmental Effects • Worst effects on: • Communities of color, children, older adults, and low income citizens • Native Americans • Tribal fishing sites (Native American fish consumption up to 10X U.S. avg. of 14 lbs/yr) • Organic gardeners • Quality of life for all

  34. Frequent, Long Train Crossings • Delayed EMS and fire department response times • Effect on heart attack/stroke/trauma victims, police response to crimes • Portland Fire Department response times already poor • Houseboat fire • Increased accidents, traumatic injuries, and deaths

  35. 39

  36. Consequences of Burning Coal • Increased ground level ozone • Mercury and other heavy metals • Neurotoxin • Associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD • 300,000-600,000 women of reproductive age with toxic levels • 18% of Mt Bachelor mercury from Asian power plants

  37. Consequences of Burning Coal • Air pollution: • 200,000 premature deaths/yr in U.S. • 4.1-6.8 million worldwide • 2.1 – 3.3 million (outdoor air pollution) • 2-3.5 million (indoor air pollution) • Government program promoting coal use in Northern China may cut life expectancy of 500 million people by average 5 yrs

  38. Consequences of Burning Coal • Global warming: • 400,000 deaths and 5.0 - 5.5 million disability-adjusted life years lost per year (WHO, UN Environment Program) • Expected to double by 2030 • Weather extremes

  39. Consequences of Burning Coal • Global warming: • 2013 report from Power Consulting: every 140 million tons of additional Powder River Basin coal exported will cause a net rise of 200-240 million tons of CO2 when burned in Asia

  40. True Cost of Coal • U.S. = $502 billion in fossil fuel subsidies in 2012 • Subsidies for polluting energy sources greater than 12 times subsidies for renewables (excluding military costs) • Much internalized as industry profits • The public health costs of coal alone are more than double the U.S. average retail electricity rate • When subsidies and externalities taken into account, renewables look great

  41. Jobs • Progressives (who oppose coal exports) traditionally support unions, green energy jobs, living wage, health insurance for all, etc. • Coal exports - Short-term, unhealthy jobs • U.S. taxpayers subsidizing Chinese and Indian jobs

  42. Jobs and Property Values • Effect on local retailers and their often low wage employees • Rail capacity limited, Montana farm exports may suffer • Seattle study predicts rail crossing congestion could cost up to $455,000/yr in lost revenue plus an additional $475 million in diminished real estate values • Negative effects on tourism

  43. Jobs Jobs program for pulmonologists, special ed teachers, and morticians