"Columbia River Coal Export Facility Challenged on Greenhouse Gases"

"Plans to open the first major coal export facility on the West Coast are likely to be delayed until next year because of an appeal filed by a coalition of environmental groups, which say shipping coal to Asia throws a wrench in U.S. efforts to reduce international greenhouse gas emissions.

On Nov. 23, commissioners in Cowlitz County, Washington, approved the 5.7-million-ton-a-year shipping facility on the Columbia River. The appeal argues that efforts to shut down coal-fired power plants in the U.S. are fruitless if American coal, unburned here, goes to power plants in China.

"The Pacific Northwest has dedicated a tremendous amount of energy to trying to reduce our coal use, and now the state of Washington would be allowing a massive amount of coal to be exported from our shores, while at the same time shutting down coal plants here," said Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeepr, one of four organizations asking the state Shoreline Hearings Board to overturn the permit.

Coal originating from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana would travel to Washington via rail to a former aluminum plant site in Longview. From there, Millennium Bulk Logistics, a subsidiary of Ambre Energy, proposes to ship it to clients in Asia, chiefly China."

Kim Murphy reports from Seattle for the Los Angeles Times' Greenspace blog December 13, 2010.

Source: LA Times, 12/14/2010