Sunday, March 27, 2011

 

Coal. What the neighbours are saying about shipping dirty fuel overseas. Ever heard of Westshore Terminal?

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From Seattle Times - March 22, 2011:

Coal quandary as state considers shipping dirty fuel overseas


Just as Washington is weaning itself off coal, two companies are pushing to make the state a leading exporter of the fossil fuel. That possibility has sparked a fierce debate: If coal is so dirty that Washington won't use it, should the state really serve as a conduit for shipping it overseas?

By Craig Welch

Visit the source for embedded photo.

A bulldozer moves coal at the Westshore Terminal near Vancouver, B.C. Two companies are pushing to build similar coal-shipping ports in Washington, one near the mouth of the Columbia River and another near Bellingham.

The sandy black gold arrives by rail every day, and piles up in giant mounds on a spit just off shore. From there, it's loaded onto ships bound for Asia. Last year, this seaport just across the United States border in Delta, B.C., shipped 27 million tons of North American coal abroad. It's the busiest coal-export operation on the continent, the only one along the West Coast outside Alaska. [BC Mary comment: I think they are talking about our Roberts Bank "Consolation Prize" which almost got tossed to OmniTRAX in the BC Rail fiasco]

Perhaps not for long.

{Snip} ...

But just as Washington weans itself off coal, it could be positioned as the nation's leading exporter of the fossil fuel. The possibility has sparked a fierce debate: If coal is so dirty that Washington shouldn't use it, should the state serve as a conduit for shipping it overseas? At a time of economic turmoil for the state and nation — when the U.S. trade deficit with China tops a quarter-trillion dollars a year — can Washington afford not to?

Passions are inflamed. Environmentalists fear that hooking China and India on a diet of cheap, dirty American energy could spell disaster for efforts to rein in global carbon-dioxide emissions.

"It's a terrible, unprecedented idea," said Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of the nonprofit Columbia Riverkeeper. "If we supply China with a large and inexpensive source of coal, then they're more likely to just keep burning it."

More coal inevitable?

When Cowlitz County late last year granted a shoreline permit for Millennium Bulk Logistics, a subsidiary of Australia's Ambre Energy, to build a coal-shipping terminal in Longview, VandenHeuvel and others appealed.

Almost immediately, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, showed up in Washington and professed frustration over the controversy. His state helped supply TransAlta's coal for years, and several other Washington utilities have owned a piece of a coal-fired power plant in tiny Colstrip, Mont.
 
"It's difficult for me to understand, since Washington state and your utilities invested in coal-fired plants in south-central Montana for three decades," Schweitzer said in an interview. "You've been digging our coal, burning our coal, and building your economy on our coal for years."

The debate is complicated by what's happening across the Pacific. China has committed to cleaning up its energy. It is developing wind, solar and geothermal technology and is mandating strict pollution controls on power plants.

But nearly 70 percent of its power comes from coal, and that won't change soon. Between 2000 and 2016, China has built or has plans to develop more new coal-burning capacity than exists in the entire U.S. now. That's in addition to plans for dozens of nuclear-power plants, development of which were put on hold after the Japanese nuclear disaster.

Some experts suggest that instead of fighting, the U.S. should accept coal's growth as unavoidable — and focus more resources and research on cleaning its emissions.

"It's a paradox," said Charles Ebinger, director of the Brookings Institution's energy policy initiative. "The Chinese are really moving vigorously on green technology, but Asia is growing so fast that demand for energy of all forms is going through the roof."

Local opposition

The proposed export terminals are so big they would be controversial even without coal.

In Bellingham, SSA Marine would erect a large terminal near Cherry Point to ferry bulk goods such as grain and potash abroad. Because water there is deep and the destination is Asia, the dock could accommodate the world's largest ships — those too big for the Panama Canal.

{Snip} ...

China's energy future

The heart of this fight is the future of coal and who'll supply it — and at what cost.

"I think the whole theme of 'are we just shifting problems elsewhere' is a growing political concern," said Joel Darmstadter, an energy and climate analyst with Resources for the Future, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

"That theme has even surfaced on the part of the Chinese themselves, who say we're being sanctimonious about our concern with the environment, given that a third of our energy still comes from coal and we consume the products China makes with its cheap energy," he said.

In fact, coal use in the U.S. is not really growing — but coal mining is. Just last week, the federal government agreed to lease access in the Powder River Basin to an additional 750 million tons of coal.

In Montana, Gov. Schweitzer said it's unfair that his state has little say about where it can go just because Montana doesn't have a seaport.

"What's next? Montana is known for producing some of the finest malting barley that's exported off the West Coast," he said. "Will somebody show up next month and say alcohol is a contributor to poor health and we don't support alcohol so you can't ship it from here?"

But Thomas Powers, an economist retired from the University of Montana who helped environmentalists with their legal challenge, said Wyoming and Montana coal is plentiful, cheap and easy to mine, which could stimulate international consumption. Making it easy for China to get U.S. coal may lead to more coal-fired power plants.

Powder River coal "is a major new source in that market, and is going to put downward pressure on coal prices," Powers said.

And KC Golden, with the environmental group Climate Solutions, said new coal plants are expensive. Once built they run for decades. And if such proposals in the eco-conscious Northwest sail through, that would send the world a signal.

"You don't make 50-year capital decisions (such as building new plants) unless you think you have the supply," Golden said. "Opening up a mainline from us to them is like sending a big bright thumbs up that it's OK. Once they make those decisions, we're toast."

Cleaner emissions

Not everyone agrees.

China, too, is blessed with coal. But its mines are dirty and dangerous and its rail infrastructure is so bogged down it's easier for coastal cities to import coal from overseas. If the fuel doesn't come from the U.S., it will come from South Africa or Australia or somewhere else, said Ebinger, at Brookings. The current best hope for cleaner Asian emissions is to effectively capture and store that carbon forever underground.

David Pumphrey, an energy expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that is still a pipe dream. The process remains prohibitively expensive. But he agreed our decision on coal exports "will make no difference in the amount of coal China burns."

And Mike Davis, an energy expert at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, said arguing over which fuel is dirtiest isn't helpful.

Instead, governments should set hard clean-energy standards and let businesses figure out how to meet them. That's the way to draw research money and drive innovation to make things like coal cleaner.

"You can do renewables until the cows come home, but on a global scale, if we don't change emissions from hydrocarbons, you don't make a dent in the problem," Davis said.

Regardless, Washington is now a central front in the global energy debate.

If the two companies get permission to ship as much coal is they say they'd like, that would more than double American coal exports.

Environmentalists say Washington state law requires all ecological harm from a building project — not just from the physical structure, and not limited to inside state boundaries — be evaluated before permits are granted.

They say that means state and county regulators will have to consider carbon dioxide and other air-pollution issues in China before granting permits for any coal-export terminal.

The argument makes regulators uneasy.

"I don't know that that's the appropriate role for a government agency when you're talking about a commodity that's legal and something that people are allowed to trade in," said Janice Adair, with the Department of Ecology, who leads a state initiative to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

But on one thing all parties seem to agree.

"We know that it's a big decision and it's in our midst," Golden said. "And we know the likely consequences of getting it wrong.
____________________________________

BC Mary comment: This is a compilation of facts which are well worth studying ... I hope many readers will find time to go to the source HERE and think upon the points raised.  It's the kind of information we don't see in our own media.  A tip o'the tuque to Craig Welch and Seattle Times.


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Comments:
Thanks for connection to Seattle Times article.

Way different from our so called 'newspapers'. A well written informative article -- and reader comments from Washingtonians were intelligent and well thought out too.

Got to respect those Americans -- they speak their minds on all sides of an issue.
 
Ridley Terminals Inc. in Prince Rupert has a capacity of 12 million tons per year.

NS
 
Keep a watch on the Lobbyist Registry page.
March 2, 2011

COMPLIANCE STRATEGY ADVANCES TRANSPARENT LOBBYING

VICTORIA —

Registrar of Lobbyists Elizabeth Denham today published her provincewide compliance strategy designed to promote compliance with the B.C. Lobbyists Registration Act.
....

As part of the registration process, the ORL will review all registrations for completeness and accuracy before they are accepted. "It is my intention to conduct random verification audits to ensure the accuracy of information in a registration," the registrar said.

The registry staff will undertake environmental scanning, which is proactive monitoring of government and organizations’ priorities and news reports to identify possible unregistered lobbying and assess whether any follow-up is required. "Identifying un-registered lobbying is not an easy task, and environmental scanning is key to flushing out those not complying," Denham said.

The registry must be easily searchable by the public who can check for themselves to see who is or is not registered. "The whole purpose of this act is transparency, so educating the public about the existence of the registry is a key strategy."

Formal investigations and the levying of visible and proportionate administrative penalties in instances of non-compliance is the most serious compliance tactic. "Although no penalties to date have been issued, it remains a key inducement to compliance."

http://www.lobbyistsregistrar.bc.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=170%3Acompliance-strategy-advances-transparent-lobbying&catid=28%3Anews&Itemid=140
 
You can see on the Lobbyist registry page 2011 Monthly snapshots.
Such as January re (Coal and Transporatation)

0. Tamara Little, a consultant lobbyist for Hill and Knowlton, is arranging meetings between her client, Western Coal Corporation, and the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Minister of Tourism, Trade and Investment, the Minister of Energy, the Minister of State for Mining and MLAs Blair Lekstrom (Peace River South) and Pat Pimm (Peace River North) (and/or their staff) to introduce her client and discuss issues related to infrastructure capacity.
11. Cliff Mackay, an in-house lobbyist for the Railway Association of Canada, is lobbying the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure (and/or her staff) to encourage a federal/provincial/private arrangement to finance upgrades to shortline railway infrastructure in BC, propose monetary penalties for non-compliance to the Metro Vancouver Non-Road Diesel Engines Regulatory Initiative and discuss the Rail Freight Service Review, Bill C-33 (the Rail Safety Act) and the Asia Pacific Gateway.
....
See Page here on Marys site re Tamara Little, also info on Feds funding New Terminals ect, possibly related to Coal transport?

(Remember Tamara Little is working for WMG with Dobell) looking back Other Consultant Lobbyists Working on the Undertaking
Lobbyist Name: Little Tamara
Name of client: Seaspan Coast Intermodal (WASHINGTON MARINE GROUP)

http://bctrialofbasi-virk.blogspot.com/search?q=tamara+little+
------------
Taking a link from the BC Lobbyist Web page
under Publications Iclicked The Lobby Monitor http://www.arcpub.com/ARCPUBLICATIONS.htm
It is for Ottawa and its a paid subscription to have access
arc and it tells its readers(Lobbyists) "Avoid Surprises
Timing can be everything in public policy advocacy. Not knowing about an issue until it hits the floor of the House of Commons often means you're too late to have any influence over the outcome. And if you wait for the mainstream media to inform you of behind the scenes lobbying activity, you'll wait a long time.

Track the Lobbyists
Corporations, associations and interest groups spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year in efforts to influence decisions on government procurement, regulations, legislation, grants, loans and policies related to trade, tax, communications, transportation and environment policy.

Tracking this activity can be a rewarding though demanding task. Knowing who is working on what issue and for whom, understanding the tactics and strategies employed, and identifying the coalitions being forged can not only keep you on top of emerging public policy issues, it can also help you avoid costly surprises. And it can enhance your effectiveness in influencing government decisions important to your organization.

-----
That is WHY We need to Monitor lobbying done in BC and to the Feds. Here in BC there wont be much changes to Legislation as the HOUSE has to be sitting to change anything!!! Maybe this Fall.
 
2011 Releases
03/24/2011Western Coal and Walter Energy Receive Investment Canada Act Approval in Connection with Proposed Arrangement

03/10/2011Western Coal and Walter Energy Receive Court Approval in Connection with Proposed Arrangement
03/08/2011Western Coal shareholders Approve Plan of Arrangement with Walter Energy

02/23/2011Western Coal Announces Donation to STARS
02/22/2011ISS and Glass Lewis Recommend Western Coal Shareholders Vote in Favour of the Arrangement with Walter Energy

02/10/2011Western Coal Announces Fiscal Q3-2011 Results
02/08/2011Western Coal Provides Notice of Fiscal Q3-2011 Results and Conference Call

02/07/2011Western Coal Announces Terminal Services Agreement with Ridley Terminals
02/07/2011Western Coal Publishes Management Information Circular for Plan of Arrangement with Walter Energy

12/09/2010Walter Energy and Western Coal Agree to a C$3.3 billion Merger
---- Reminder Tamara Little and Ken Dobell-WMG Lobbying


http://www.westerncoal.com/news_and_links/
 
Check this out " What Canadian National Railway doesnt want You to know
http://www.fightrailcongestion.com/PPT_01.htm
 
Watch this Video linked from the last site I posted. Port of Prince Rupert.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRAs9B4EV84
 
Such a great article it was which When Cowlitz County late granted a shoreline permit for Millennium Bulk Logistics, a subsidiary of Australia's Ambre Energy, to build a coal-shipping terminal in Longview, VandenHeuvel and others appealed. In Which a bulldozer moves coal at the Westshore Terminal near Vancouver, B.C. Two companies are pushing to build similar coal-shipping ports in Washington, one near the mouth of the Columbia River and another near Bellingham. Thanks for sharing this informative article.
 
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