Yakama Nation Protests Coal Export Terminal

May 21, 2014

BOARDMAN, Ore. -- Yakama Nation tribal members took to the Columbia River Tuesday to protest a proposed coal export facility in eastern Oregon. The tribe says the export facility would cut fishers off from treaty-protected fishing sites along the river.

More than 70 people held signs and waved flags on the banks of the Columbia River, just downstream from the proposed Morrow Pacific coal export terminal.

BLACK DIAMOND, Wash. -- Environmentalists have launched a full-on offensive against coal export terminals proposed for Washington and Oregon, but they might want to take a look closer to home.

A small open pit coal mine just outside of Seattle is looking to get back in business.

The John Henry Mine, formerly the Black Diamond Mine, has been in operation on and off since the late 1800s, but it closed down in 1999.

Students Urge Washington Schools To Stop Investing In Fossil Fuels

May 7, 2014

Steve Scher talks to Alex Lenferna, a graduate student at the University of Washington and leader of Divest UW, about his group's efforts to persuade the university to remove fossil fuels from its stock profile.

The coal export terminal proposed for the Columbia River town of Longview, Wash. is moving to the next phase in the environmental review process.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has issued three permits for the coal export terminal that Ambre Energy wants to build on the Columbia River in the Eastern Oregon town of Boardman.

A multinational banking giant is backing away from a proposal to build the West Coast’s biggest coal export project near Bellingham, Washington.

New York-based Goldman Sachs has sold its stock back to the companies proposing to build the Gateway Pacific Terminal. If built it would transfer 48 million tons of Wyoming coal each year from trains to ocean-going vessels bound for Asia.

Seattle 2013: A Year In Protest

Dec 30, 2013
Heather Villanueva

As we looked back on the last year, debating which stories to highlight here, we noticed a trend that surprised us: 2013 was a year of activism and protest in the Seattle area.

Flickr Photo/Aaron Hockley

A federal board has ruled that the coal companies operating in the Powder River Basin have to take certain measures to reduce the amount of dust that is escaping from coal train cars.

On December 6, 2013 at Town Hall in Seattle, reporter Ashley Ahearn moderated a discussion with Jay Julius, Lummi councilmember; and tribal law experts Mason Morisett and Knoll Lowney about an ongoing battle over a coal terminal, proposed to be built at Cherry Point, a sacred site for the Lummi.

KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Dozens of crab pot buoys dot the waters around Lummi tribal member Jay Julius’ fishing boat as he points the bow towards Cherry Point – a spit of land that juts into northern Puget Sound near Bellingham, Wash.

EarthFix/KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Three summers ago, the company that hopes to build the largest coal terminal in North America failed to obtain the permits it needed before bulldozing more than four miles of roads and clearing more than nine acres. 

EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

New research results suggest coal trains are contributing to the Northwest’s air pollution.

That’s according to the preliminary results of a University of Washington atmospheric and environmental scientist’s crowdfunded study.

Flickr Photo/Ryan Sitzman

UPDATE: 10/18/13, 2:30 p.m. PT.

This story does not reflect recent donations of approximately $150,000 made to a political action committee that supports Whatcom County Council candidates believed to be sympathetic to the proposed coal terminal in Bellingham, Wash. Donations were made to Save Whatcom, a conservative PAC.

Original Post:

A relatively small county council election in Washington state’s far northwest corner could play a major role in the future of the US coal industry.

The Whatcom County council could end up casting the deciding votes to permit the controversial dock for the Gateway Pacific Terminal, which would transfer coal from trains onto ships bound for Asia. It would be the largest coal export terminal on the West Coast.

Flickr Photo/Ryan Sitzman

China plans to cut coal consumption in major northern cities including Beijing and Shanghai by 2017 to curb pollution. Could this impact demand for Wyoming coal and proposed (and controversial) coal export terminals in Washington state?  Marcie Sillman talks it over with David Roberts who writes for the Seattle-based environmental magazine, Grist.

Pamela Gerber

Proposals to make the Northwest a major coal exporting region have made for a familiar debate over the potential impacts on people and the environment. Will it help the economy? What will coal dust do to the air we breathe? Will our rivers and marine waters be threatened?

Here’s another question: Will coal trains harm the wetlands of the Pacific Northwest?

So far, wetlands have not been a central part of the public debate over coal exports. But concern over these ecologically sensitive areas are familiar to the federal regulators who will decide whether to permit coal export terminals.

In fact, according to government documents obtained by EarthFix, the Army Corps of Engineers has already studied the issue. And in at least one instance, it’s reached a conclusion:

Coal trains are bad for wetlands.