Transforming the Northwest into Dirty Coal’s New Corridor

By scott parkin

Coal train by Flickr user Scott GrannemanThe latest scheme by the Corporate Doomsday Machine (aka the fossil fuel industry) to plunder and ruin the earth for profit involves transforming the highways, waterways and railways of the Northwest into a transport corridor for coal.

King Coal’s domestic options are soon going to be limited after Obama and Lisa Jackson drop the big one on greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, with a possible loss in profits, Mr. Peabody’s coal company needs a new place to sell their dirty black rock. Currently, Asian markets are more than willing buyers of all things coal. The industry just needs an efficient way to get it there, but the only West Coast port exporting coal is Vancouver, British Columbia. So King Coal wants more outlets for Powder River Basin coal.

In Longview, Washington, an Australian company, Ambre Energy, has proposed a coal export terminal to ship coal from the Powder River Basin (Montana, Wyoming) to Asian markets. The Cowlitz County Council has approved the terminal. The state of Washington has come out against it, but the project is still moving forward.

The revolving door between private and public sectors spins faster than Barry Allen in a meth lab as King Coal’s top lobbyist, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, traveled to Washington (state) this month to promote the Longview coal termial and coal producer interests.

Brian SchweitzerAnd what’s Schweitzer’s selling? Nothing less than 2011′s real prize — JOBS! Jobs building the terminal. Jobs working at the terminal. Jobs working in the coal mines and moving coal to market. In the current economy, the false dichotomy of jobs vs. the environment will always see employment come out on top, and industry preys upon those fears.

Other coal companies such as Peabody Energy also have plans to build more coal export terminals on the northwest coast. Exporting coal to overseas markets will be the emerging environmental struggle.

But don’t think this means East Coast coal sources are off the hook. The Appalachian and mid-western coal barons aim to export lots out of East Coast ports like Norfolk as well.

Fortunately, the Northwest region has a recent serious history of environmental resistance. Oregon, Washington, Northern California, Idaho and Montana have all seen decades of strife over logging and mining.

This fight is just beginning.  Who’s in?