At one time, these stories bothered me a lot -- stories about the environmental activists shutting down ports that ship coal -- but they bother me less every day, now that I know the five biggest coal-exporting ports are on the East Coast and on the Gulf of Mexico. If the northwest wants to close its ports, it will hardly be a ripple outside the region. The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will be more than happy to pick up the slack.
But I digress.
The big story here is that even The New York Times sees the hypocrisy of the activist environmentalists in the Northwest. Good for The Times.
Now, plans by the energy industry to move increasing amounts of coal and oil through the region by rail, bound for Asia, are pulling at all the threads of that self-portrait.Last September, the first trains of crude oil from the Bakken fields in North Dakota began chugging through. Since then, energy companies have drafted proposals for new storage, handling and shipment capability almost equivalent to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which is facing a deeply uncertain path of federal regulatory approval.Mile-long trains from the coal mines of Wyoming already run daily, and the load could more than double if three big proposed export terminals gain approval and financing.The expected outrage has ensued.
The proposals “do violence to many Northwesterners’ concept of their place and what it stands for,” Alan Durning, the founder and executive director of the Sightline Institute, an environmental research group in Seattle, said in an e-mail.
Environmental groups led by the Sierra Club have filed a federal lawsuit accusing the BNSF Railway, which dominates the freight system, of violating the federal Clean Water Act by letting coal spill into waterways from its tracks. The State of Washington, in assessing the permit application of a proposed coal terminal near Bellingham, said in July that it would take a macro-environmental approach, looking at impacts of the project along the entire length of the coal transit route, including the burning of the coal in China.
But with the promise of jobs, the effort is moving ahead. The biggest oil shipment project yet proposed, which would be able to process about 360,000 barrels a day, was given an initial lease approval by the Port of Vancouver, Wash. The reality of the Northwest’s environmental image has always been more nuanced than the stereotype suggests.
Huge dams on the Columbia River make Washington and Oregon Nos. 1 and 2 in the nation in renewable hydroelectricity. But the cheap electricity from those dams fostered an aerospace industry that is hardly carbon neutral. A multistate planning compact made the region a national leader in energy efficiency. But Washington’s big oil refineries can pump out more old-fashioned gasoline than all but a handful of other states.
More at the link.
By the way, the only region mile-long oil trains are on the tracks is because the activist environmentalists have convinced "someone" pipelines are dangerous to the environment. LOL.