This year got off to a good start when Goldman Sachs withdrew its investment in the dirtiest coal project on the west coast by selling off its equity investment in Carrix, the parent company of SSA Marine, which was behind a colossal coal export terminal proposal near Bellingham, Washington.
The move comes after coal companies and their proponents have tabled or dropped three out of six proposed coal export terminals in the Pacific Northwest in the last two years.
If built, the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point would mean up to 18 mile-long coal trains traveling through local communities and up to 48 million tons of coal exported to Asian markets each year. It would be the largest coal export terminal in North America, and threatened to ruin the rich biodiversity and unique cultural legacy found in the region.
The large Wall Street banks have endured years of reputational crisis following the economic crash. There are many reasons why a company concerned with its reputation would choose to avoid the egregious Gateway Pacific Terminal which threatens human rights, a thriving Tribal fishery and biodiversity in a sensitive marine environment.
Crina Hoyer of ReSources for Sustainable Communities in Bellingham points out: “We already know that local Main Street businesses would feel the negative impacts from coal export. And communities across the region are saying no to this bad deal because of health, climate, environmental and economic impacts.”
While we don’t know the specifics behind Goldman Sachs’ decision, it is interesting to reflect that last July, Goldman Sachs posted a warning for investors that coal exports would decline in future years.
Eric de Place of the Sightline Institute, commented: “It is reasonable to think Goldman’s departure is, at minimum, an indication Wall Street is losing confidence that Whatcom County will host a profitable coal terminal.”