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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 → China and India • Federal land • Americans own most of Powder River Basin (40% of America’s coal supply)

  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. Plans • 100 million tons/yr • 20 trains/day • 4 diesel engines/train (100-120 cars per train) • 12 barges/wk

  5. Plans • Would dramatically increase U.S. coal export capacity • 2006 - 50 million tons/yr • Current - 127 million tons/yr • With active proposals - 100 million tons/yr • Through Columbia River Gorge (National Scenic Area)

  6. 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

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

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

  9. DECKER MINE: DECKER, MONTANA

  10. Accidents • Almost 40 train derailments over last 2 years • 250 deaths/yr in U.S. from all rail transport accidents • Barge accidents • Risk of fires at coal terminals • State oversight of rail safety and local fire/disaster preparedness weak

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

  12. Mesa, WA Coal Train Derailment(2012)

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

  14. 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

  15. 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

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

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

  18. Fire at Westshore Coal TerminalBritish Columbia, 2013

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

  20. Trains • 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, and overpasses • Costs will be borne by local municipalities, state and federal taxpayers

  21. Health Effects • Diesel particulate matter: • impaired lung development • pulmonary inflammation and lung cancer • increased risk of heart attacks/strokes/cancer/asthma

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

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

  24. 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

  25. “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

  26. Health Effects • Noise: • Cardiovascular disease • Stroke • Cognitive impairment in children • Exacerbation of mental health disorders • Sleep disturbances

  27. 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

  28. Frequent, Long Train Crossings • Delayed EMS and fire department response times • Increased accidents, traumatic injuries, deaths

  29. Consequences of Burning Coal • Increased ground level ozone • Mercury and other heavy metals • Neurotoxin • 300,000-600,000 women of reproductive age with toxic levels

  30. 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

  31. 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 • 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

  32. 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) • Public health costs = 2X electricity rates • When subsidies and externalities taken into account, renewables look great

  33. 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

  34. 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

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

  36. Recent Developments Show Coal’s Future is Bleak • Coal export prices down 40% over summer, 2013 ($80-90/ton) • Investors abandoning coal • World Bank and U.S. sharply restricting funding of (overseas) coal plants (2013)

  37. Recent Developments Show Coal’s Future is Bleak • Chinese demand expected to drop with development of nuclear and renewables • Air pollution situation “grim” • Has banned new coal plant production near Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou and promised to close 2,000 small coal mines by 2015

  38. Desperation • Supporters using amoral logic of “someone else will sell it to them” – similar to tobacco exports

  39. The Latest • Many new coal terminals planned for Gulf of Mexico (if Pacific NW plans do not work out) • 60 additional trains per week, could move 700,000 barrels oil/day (proposed Keystone Pipeline = 830,000 barrels/day) • Last Oregon coal plant (Boardman) to close in 2020

  40. The Latest • Plans to use railways and terminals to transport Canadian Tar Sands and North Dakota Bakken Oil Field fracked oil through Pacific NW for export • Pipelines on wheels • 2008 – 9500 carloads thru Pacific NW; 2012 – over 200,000; the future – more

  41. What is Being Done • Protests • Lawsuits • Local measures passing • Pressure on governments/officials

  42. What You Can Do • Join Power Past Coal Coalition • Volunteer • Demand a halt to all proposals

  43. Conclusions • Coal is a dying 19th Century technology with Dickensian effects on human health and the environment • The consequences of coal transport through the Pacific Northwest and its subsequent burning in Asian power plants is bad for the Northwest, the United States, and the world

  44. Conclusions • U.S. needs an energy policy for the 21st century, using clean technologies that provide long-term, well-paying, and safe jobs

  45. Günter Grass “The first job of a citizen is to keep your mouth open.”

  46. African Proverb If you think you are too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in your tent

  47. Special Thanks To • Regna Merritt, Margie Kircher, Andy Harris, Susan Katz, and others at Oregon PSR • regna@oregonpsr.org • Laura Stevens and others, Oregon Sierra Club/Beyond Coal Campaign • Alan Lockwood, National PSR • Thousands of concerned citizens who have volunteered their time and energy