Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cherry Point, Washington Coal Export Terminal

The Center Supports The Terminal

It is perfectly legal to dig up coal, transport it thousands of miles by rail, ship, and burn it for electricity. The Center intends to address carbon dioxide and global warming concerns by promoting Energy Defense Reservations (EDR) in the United States, China and other Asian nations.  We support the terminal because we believe the global warming gases can be mitigated via technology innovation, jobs can be created, Asia needs cheap, reliable electrification fuel to become fully developed (thus serving as a source of jobs in the USA via exports), train traffic can be mitigated via vehicle overpasses, fugitive coal dust can be mitigated via wetting and terminal fugitive dust can be mitigated via covered conveyor belts and fencing the facility.

A 133-car coal train is loaded at the Buckskin Coal Mine
 in Gillete, Wyo. Each car carries 120 tons of coal.

Bellingham, Washington is a progressive college town of 81,000 that values sustainability and some local activists are concerned that the area's reputation will be damaged by shipments of coal through the town to the nearby coal export terminal at Cherry Point, Washington.  Opponents are also concerned about coal dust and train traffic.  Proponents rightfully point out that train traffic will be there anyway because coal from Wyoming will go to the Westport facility in British Columbia just across the Canadian border.

A coal-fired power plant on the outskirts of Beijing

China and other Asian nations are going to burn coal.  The Center believes this demand can be utilized most efficiently if technology is developed to convert carbon dioxide into gasoline.  Although the United States probably does not have the wherewithal to develop this technology, we believe that China has both the money, motivation and technical expertise to develop the Center EDR concept.  Morever, as the percentage of coal is reduced due to environmental regulations in the United States, exporting American coal is an excellent way to reduce America's trade deficit with China.

China will simply get the coal from somewhere else if it does not come from the USA.  In particular, if Mongolia beefs up its railways, it can cheaply transport coal to China.  U.S. coal exports to China would not satisfy China's current appetite for coal because it is so massive that even if the two proposed U.S. terminals (Cherry Point & Longview) ended up exporting at full capacity — that is, 100 million tons a year, or 10 percent of current production levels — that would only satisfy 3 percent of China's appetite. (North Country Public Radio, 10/27/2011, NPR, 10/27/2011, NPR, 10/26/2011, Photos Courtesy Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images, Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

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