Officials from the US Army Corps of Engineers and state Department of Ecology hear public comment in Seattle this afternoon about a plan to build the largest coal export terminal on the West Coast near Bellingham. KUOW's Ashley Ahearn joins us with details. Then, we look at Michigan's new "right to work" legislation and the possible ripple effects in Washington state with University of Washington Professor Jim Gregory.
Exporting coal via the Northwest has become an issue so divisive that old friendships and alliances strain under the pressure. No matter how you feel about climate change or construction jobs or any number of issues bound to the five coal export terminals under consideration around the Northwest, chances are you know someone who feels differently about the issue than you do.
As regulators in the region weigh the potential impacts of trains full of coal moving along the Columbia River and the shores of Puget Sound, trainloads of oil are quietly on the move. There are billions of barrels of oil in the Bakken shale formation – located in North Dakota and Montana mainly. And some of that oil is now making its way to refineries in Puget Sound.
Puget Sound Energy owns and operates a coal-fired power plant out of Billings, Montana, that the Sierra Club calls "the dirtiest coal plant in the West." The Colstrip Plant meets EPA emission standards and PSE touts its green-energy portfolio, with plans to triple its renewable energy supply by 2020. How does coal fit into that equation? And with coal plants generating 42 percent of America's electricity, how much impact would closing one plant have? We take a look with PSE's Andy Wappler and Anne Hedges of the Montana Environmental Information Center.
Government agencies have begun the environmental review process for the largest proposed coal export terminal in the Northwest. It would be located near Bellingham, Washington.
If it’s built, the Gateway Pacific Terminal would draw trains from across the region, carrying coal from Wyoming and Montana to be exported to Asia, and those trains would move through Seattle. That would lead to more traffic, according to a new report from the Seattle Department of Transportation.