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Archive for the ‘ports’ Category

PNW coal export scoping to include GHG impacts in Asia

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Photo by Paul K. AndersonThe coal industry’s plan to move millions of tons of coal through Pacific Northwest terminals to China and other Asian markets took a serious hit when Washington regulators said environmental impact reviews must consider the worldwide impact of burning the export coal in China.

A major battle surrounding the various export terminal proposals has centered on the “scope” of the environmental review process, such as whether the impact review would be limited to local port and terminal areas in the PNW region. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

September 3, 2013 at 5:00 am

Three weasels sell out for coal exports

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coal_fallsroadI practically spewed coffee and other detritus all over the front page of Tuesday’s Seattle Times when I saw this headline:
‘Green’ strategists now back coal trains

WTF? The Times subsequently backtracked on that egregiously misleading headline on its website:  ‘Green’ strategists hired by coal companies to push train proposals.

However it’s titled, the story has engendered a firestorm of controversy and push-back on the astounding sell-out of the three “green strategists” so politely quoted by the newspaper. Maybe in a different life they were green, but now they – Bruce Gryniewski, Lauri Hennessey and Roger Nyhus — are simply a clueless and pathetic group of feckless mercenary weasels sucking at coal’s black tit. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

February 28, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Supremos get in on clean trucks action

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LA_cleantruckThe Supreme Court will hear a trucking industry challenge to rules Los Angeles adopted five years ago that are designed to curb truck emissions at the nation’s busiest port.

The case (American Trucking Associations vs. City of Los Angeles) will determine the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Clean Truck Program at the Port of Los Angeles. Similar rules are also in force at the nearby Port of Long Beach. The question centers on whether cities and states have authority to limit pollution from trucks moving long-haul cargo.

The answer to that question would seem a no-brainer, especially in environmental circles, but the ATA contends that the local clean truck regulations run afoul of a federal law that deregulated motor carriers. So complications ensue. There is a provision in the law that preempts any state or local measure that is “related to the price, route or service of any motor carrier.” The purpose of that provision is to speed the free flow of trucks, buses and other shippers and to prevent local or state rules that would add to costs to those movements. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

February 5, 2013 at 11:23 am

Getting the Coal Train Blues

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“People get ready there’s a train a’coming…” Sixteen mile-and-a-half long coal trains a day through West Seattle, my town, to be exact. Or how about 62 coal trains rolling through Spokane every day?

That’s nothing to sing about, unless it’s one of those “low-down dirty blues” songs. A small gathering met at Fauntleroy Church’s Fellowship Hall on Wednesday (Sept. 26) to hear about Big Coal’s noxious plans to ship coal from the Powder River Basin to the Pacific Northwest for export to markets in Asia. On hand were representatives from the Sierra Club, Climate Solutions and Earth Ministry to get out the word about those plans and to talk about the activities to derail the export schemes.

“Coal exports are a dirty business,” said Robin Everett, an associate regional representative for the Sierra Club and its Beyond Coal campaign. “It’s dirty every step of the way.”

I’ve written about these plans before on this and other sites, but now it’s getting personal, and it’s that way for anyone who happens to live in the vicinity of BN Railway’s tracks in the PNW. By the way, that’s millions of people who will be exposed to the harmful impacts of moving coal through the region in terms of health, safety, economic disruption, gridlock traffic congestion at rail crossings and infrastructure pressures. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

September 27, 2012 at 9:14 am

Seattle City Council: Thumbs down on PNW coal-export terminals

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Seattle’s City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing the development of coal-export terminals in Washington State, but what does it really mean? Actually not much – it’s a victory, sort of, for environmental activists that are fighting proposals to transport coal on 1.5 mile-long trains through the region for eventual export to China.

But the city council has no real say on what happens with this issue; it was an easy vote for the council members. But it is a clear message from a city and port that prides itself on its greenness. (Regarding the Port of Seattle: the port’s opposition to a new sports arena in the SoDo district for NBA-starved fans because of “traffic” is both heartless, tone deaf, short-sighted and incredibly lame – but I digress.) Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

June 20, 2012 at 2:32 am

RFK Jr. calls out the corrupting power of coal

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“Coal is a crime.” Succinctly put by the environmental lawyer and anti-coal advocate John F. Kennedy Jr. this week in Portland where hundreds rallied against proposals to bring mile-long coal trains from the Midwest to Pacific Northwest ports for export to Asia, mainly China.

Kennedy, president of the Waterkeeper Alliance and senior attorney for the National Resources Defense Council, said that the half-dozen or so pending proposals in the PNW will lead to political corruption and environmental damage, while the actual number of jobs created will be minimal. In addition King Coal’s influence would “seep” into the Oregon and Washington state legislatures, buying legislators who would otherwise vote against the proposal with campaign money and the promise of jobs.

“It’s going to end up leaving Portland with a legacy of pollution, poison and corruption,” Kennedy said.

Environmentalists say that the dust emitted from trains hauling tens of millions of tons of coal would pollute the proposed routes while opening the door to further environmental damage from its use in Asia.

Kennedy said the U.S. believes it can export the environmental problems from coal, but it will find that mercury from its use in Asia washes up on the Pacific shore while acidifying the ocean.

“Anybody who touches coal gets poisoned by it,” said Kennedy,”You don’t just get sick. It poisons democracy, it poisons communities, it poisons values.”

And that’s why coal is a crime that should not be exported overseas or allowed to pass through this region’s communities for the sake of a few jobs. “We’ve got lots of better sources for jobs,” Kennedy said. “If you were really interested in jobs, let’s build wind farms, let’s build solar plants. Let’s use the marketplace to incentivize good behavior.”

Thank you Robert Jr. – somewhere a proud father is smiling. The father who said: “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

[Image: coal trains in Kansas by colin_n via Flickr]

Written by William DiBenedetto

May 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Coal export plans a dirty business for the PNW

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Hey kids! Here’s an idea: Let’s inundate the global market with our cheap dirty coal! We won’t be burning and polluting the atmosphere here in the U.S., merely transporting the coal on 1.5-mile long trains through densely populated areas of the Pacific Northwest, where it will be exported to foreign markets. We’ll boost our exports, help our balance of trade and create jobs!

That’s the gist of the coal industry’s argument for proposals to export tens of millions of tons of coal through the Pacific Northwest to China and other Asian nations.

But major organizations including the Sierra Club, the Sierra Student Coalition, Climate Solutions and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility are gearing up to derail the coal train idea. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

December 2, 2011 at 2:00 am

Staxxon: Folding the box inside the box

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Containerization revolutionized the maritime freight transportation industry more than 50 years ago; those ubiquitous 20- and 40-foot steel intermodal boxes seen in ports and on truck and rail chassis have made cargo handling faster, easier, safer and more efficient.

The next revolutionary phase of containerization might well reside in the vertical folding container from Staxxon Technologies, a clever solution to the old trade imbalance problem of moving and repositioning empty containers from where the freight isn’t to where the freight is. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

November 1, 2011 at 2:00 am

100 years on: Happy Birthday Port of Seattle!

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A little hometown cooking today: Here’s to the Port of Seattle on its 100 birthday!

Some of us are lucky to live and work in their favorite city (and port) either by happenstance or design. I count myself among those persons, having lived here since 1994 through pain, loss, success, fun, tugboat races, seafood, Seafair pirates, the Seattle Mariners and, well, living. There’s no place quite like Seattle for all of that.

Governor Gregoire has declared today “Port of Seattle Day” in Washington, marking the centennial of the port, which has served as the region’s major economic engine. The port generates nearly 200,000 jobs across the state and $867 million in state and local tax revenues. For more, visit the centennial website at www.portseattle100.org.

Written by William DiBenedetto

September 5, 2011 at 12:10 pm

EPA’s SmartWay program expands to drayage

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Goods movement stakeholders in port areas and the Environmental Protection Agency have launched an initiative that’s designed to help clear the air and reduce emissions in the nation’s port areas.

The EPA SmartWay Drayage Program builds on clean truck programs that have been around at various port regions for several years.

The players with the EPA in the nationwide initiative include: The Coalition for Responsible Transportation and the Environmental Defense Fund. The CRT partners comprise: Best Buy; Hewlett Packard; Home Depot; JC Penney; Lowe’s; Nike; Target; Wal-Mart; and the following port trucking carriers: California Cartage Express, LLC; California Multimodal, LLC; Container Connection; Evans Delivery Company, Inc.; GSC Logistics; PDS Trucking Inc.; Performance Team/Gale Triangle; Total Transportation Services, Inc.; and the Western Ports Transportation.

The launch was announced recently at the Port of Charleston, SC. According to the joint announcement, the program “builds a partnership between numerous goods movement stakeholders including major national retailers, trucking companies, port communities, environmental groups and the U.S. EPA to solve a critical health and environmental challenge: how to reduce harmful air emissions from port drayage trucks.”

Drayage trucks, which haul cargo containers arriving at ports to storage areas, transload centers and nearby distribution centers, are usually old and a major source of diesel emissions in and around port areas. Getting those vehicles off the road is one of the thorniest and most controversial port and transportation issues around.

In a statement, Rick Gabrielson, who is the CRT President and is Target’s Director of Import Operations, said, “This partnership will generate private sector investment in clean technology, improve the environmental quality of our nation’s port communities and demonstrate the commitment we have made as the shipping industry’s leaders to emissions reductions.”

The program “offers great incentives for independent owner operators and trucking companies to replace their older drayage trucks with cleaner, less polluting models,” said Marcia Aronoff, the EDF’s senior vice president for programs. “With the rise in population and the growth of the freight transportation industry, we must be vigilant, forward thinking and creative in finding solutions that reduce toxic emissions and embrace market-based sustainability efforts.”

The drayage program is based on the EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership, generally regarded as an innovative and successful collaboration between the EPA and goods movement interests. The voluntary program provides a framework for assessing and addressing transportation-related emissions and energy efficiency while recognizing superior environmental performance through market-based incentives.

Under the program, port trucking companies and independent owner-operators sign a partnership agreement and commit to track diesel emissions, replace their older dirtier trucks with cleaner, newer ones, and achieve at least a 50 percent reduction in particulate matter and 25 percent reduction in nitrous oxide (NOx) below the national industry average within three years.

Then the SmartWay retailers sign a partnership agreement, committing to ship at least 75 percent of their port cargo with SmartWay trucking companies within three years.

“By giving business priority to SmartWay drayage carriers, the program creates a market-driven approach to incentivize emissions reductions at port communities across the country,” EPA says.

This approach has worked well in the Pacific Northwest, where market-based clean truck programs between stakeholders at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma have been around since 2008 and have removed hundreds of dirty drayage trucks from those port areas.

Written by William DiBenedetto

July 8, 2011 at 2:03 am

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