When utility companies burn coal to make electricity — and it generated 39 percent of U.S. energy in 2013 — it leaves behind ash that can contain arsenic, selenium, boron and many other toxic substances.

Wyoming lawmakers have passed legislation that would allow the state to finance the construction of coal export terminals in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere.

On Friday, Wyoming’s state legislature sent to Gov. Matt Mead a bill that would allow the state to issue up to $1 billion in bonds to help fund out-of-state projects, including coal export terminals.

Lloyd Drain, director of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, said these projects would be good for Wyoming coal and the Northwest, too.

Northwest Officials Unite Against Coal And Oil Trains

Mar 4, 2015

More than 150 elected officials from across the Northwest have teamed up to speak out against coal and oil trains. Their new group, the Safe Energy Leadership Alliance, held its third meeting in Portland Tuesday.

Washington's King County Executive Dow Constantine has stepped up to chair the group. It includes officials from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and British Columbia.

SEATTLE -- A federal agency says a Puget Sound tribe has not made a convincing enough case to to halt the permitting process for the largest proposed coal export facility in the country.

Oregon Bill Would Eliminate Coal-Fired Power By 2025

Feb 4, 2015

A bill in the Oregon Legislature this session would require electric companies to stop delivering coal-fired power to Oregon customers by 2025.

The replacement power would have to come from sources that are 90 percent cleaner than coal plants.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tobias Read (D-Beaverton) and Sen. Chris Edwards (D-Eugene), targets coal-fired power coming into Oregon from out of state. Oregon's only coal-fired power plant in Boardman is scheduled to be retired in 2020.

LUMMI RESERVATION, Wash. -- The Lummi Nation issued a letter Monday to the U.S. government seeking to end the project's permitting process for a coal-shipping project encircled by their Puget Sound fishing grounds.

A coal mining operation near Gillette, Wyoming. Seattle billionaire Paul Allen is bankrolling a lawsuit over the way the federal government leases public land for coal mining.
KCTS9 Photo/Michael Werner

As the Seattle Seahawks eye another run at the Super Bowl, their owner Paul Allen has chosen to tackle a different challenge: climate change.

Instead of giving money to environmental groups, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft is picking up the tab for a lawsuit against the Department of the Interior, which oversees the leasing of public land to coal mining companies.

Northwest tribes took part in a national gathering Wednesday for native leaders in Washington, D.C., where top federal officials told them they stand together in opposing climate change and supporting treaty rights.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was among those who addressed the annual White House Tribal Nations Conference.

"There’s a saying: 'we don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.'" she said. "So that’s what climate change is all about. We have an earth that is in trouble."

Jewell’s comments were met with applause.

EarthFix Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Environmental groups are among the biggest spenders in this year’s state elections in Washington and Oregon, pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into campaigns to ensure Democratic statehouse control.

Wyoming Offers Northwest Tribal Leaders A Free Trip To Coal Country

Oct 7, 2014

Treaty fishing rights give Northwest tribes extra clout when it comes to the future of proposed coal terminals on the Columbia River and Puget Sound.

That's not lost on the governor of Wyoming, a big proponent of coal exports.

Gov. Matt Mead is inviting Northwest tribal leaders on an all-expenses-paid trip to coal country in Northeastern Wyoming, according to an email obtained by EarthFix.

The governor's invitation went out to tribes in Oregon and Washington, including the Umatilla, Yakama, Swinomish and the Lummi.

The developer of the proposed Morrow Pacific coal export project, as well as two project supporters, have appealed the state of Oregon's decision to deny a permit for a dock on the Columbia River.

As more oil trains travel along the Columbia River and Puget Sound, conservation groups worry that cleanup plans could harm sensitive wildlife, like endangered salmon and shorebirds.

Oregon Approves Subsidies For Oil Transport, Not For Coal

Aug 25, 2014

The Oregon Transportation Commission voted Friday to approve nearly $5 million in subsidies for rail and dock infrastructure tied to controversial coal export and oil-by-rail projects.

KUOW Photo/Jake Warga

This week, we found out what’s really at the bottom of Lake Washington. The reporter who did the story surfaces to tell us. Plus, do Seattle TV stations have the right to surveillance video of the SPU shooter? Do coal companies have the right to ship from our shores? Is it right to pay voters to vote? And was something not right with Steve Ballmer and Lakeside High School basketball?

Bill Radke asks those questions and more of this week's panel: Crosscut’s Knute Berger, The Stranger’s Eli Sanders and Maria LaGanga of the LA Times.

Ross Reynolds talks with KUOW reporter Ashley Ahearn about what the denial of a key permit for a coal terminal in Oregon means for Washington state.