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Posts Tagged ‘coal

GAO on freight transport: focus on community congestion impact

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3501697246_da4c3fa9a2_zThe Government Accountability Office says developing a national freight strategy should pay attention to the impact of congestion on communities.

GAO’s report (GAO-14-740), released on 26 September, found that recent trends in freight flows, if they continue as anticipated, “may exacerbate congestion issues in communities, particularly along certain corridors.”

As of 2012, the latest year for which data is available, national freight rail and truck traffic had approached the levels reached in 2007, prior to the economic recession, the report continues. “Certain trends related to specific commodities have affected rail flows, including increases in domestic crude oil production. A key negative impact of increasing freight flows is congestion at highway-rail grade crossings, where road traffic must wait to cross the tracks when trains are passing.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

October 6, 2014 at 5:05 am

China, Nature Conservancy Work to Curb Pollution

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Chongqing_Sam GaoTalk about strange bedfellows: China is the largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, but the country, in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy, is working to curb the causes and effects of climate change.

It might seem like a strange partnership between a non-profit and a huge nation, but it seems to work. TNC’s Conservation Blueprint project identified 32 regions that TNC and the Chinese government believe are most vital to the country’s environmental future. The U.S.-based conservation group is analyzing how ecosystem-based adaptation strategies “can help those regions thrive.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

September 8, 2014 at 5:00 am

Coal export terminal plan sunk by Oregon lands agency

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coal train_mckennaNow we’re down to two. Oregon’s Department of State Lands last week denied an Ambre Energy proposal to transport coal by rail to a Port of Morrow, OR terminal for eventual export to China and other Asian markets.

It’s the latest in a series of wins for opponents of six coal company proposals to move coal through the Pacific Northwest on the way to Asian markets. However the two biggest plans, both located in Washington State, are still alive: the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point north of Bellingham, and the Millennium Bulk Terminal at Longview on the Columbia River. Read the rest of this entry »

Norwegian firm says CCS technology more welcome in U.S.

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carbon emissionsCarbon capture and storage technologies designed to reduce carbon emissions get a better reception in the U.S. than in Europe, according to Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM), a Norwegian firm that tests CCS technology.

For one thing, there’s a lot more carbon to capture and store in the USA, and a lot of carbon emitting gas and coal fired plants still around. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

March 12, 2014 at 4:11 am

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

Does China really need—or want—US coal?

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coal train_mckennaThe short answer is: probably not. There are many reasons to question the wisdom of exporting U.S. coal to Asia through five planned terminals in the Pacific Northwest, including huge health, safety and environmental risks.

But what if the entire underlying economic rationale for this whole exercise—China’s supposed insatiable and never-ending demand for U.S. coal exports—is non-existent? What if that perceived and anticipated market, even if it once existed, is disappearing?

That’s the conclusion of a recent Greenpeace report, “The Myth of China’s Endless Coal Demand: A missing market for US Exports.”

“The US coal industry – reeling from sagging domestic demand, plummeting profits, and tanking stock prices – is desperate for a new market for its wares, and it thinks it has found one in China,” Greenpeace says. “But in reality, the Chinese market for US coal exports may dry up before major new US coal shipments ever reach its ports.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

March 12, 2013 at 3:00 am

Coal’s downward spiral in 2012

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It was a big year for Big Coal — in the sense of big losses and setbacks for the coal industry’s agenda, which made it a very good year indeed.

When thousands of people show up at the Seattle Convention Center for a technical “scoping” hearing to comment on and protest plans to export coal through Pacific Northwest terminals to Asian markets – Big Coal’s master export plan is in doubt. One coal plant each week was retired during 2012, which perhaps helps to explain why there is such zest on the part of the industry to ship the stuff overseas.

The Sierra Club‘s nationwide campaign—Beyond Coal—to phase out coal burning in the United States won victories from coast to coast, including the coal plant retirements and record investments in wind and solar. The coal industry experienced numerous setbacks in 2012 as its market share fell and stock prices tanked.

“With an overarching goal to move America off coal and slash carbon pollution, an unprecedented coalition including Sierra Club and more than a hundred local, regional and national organizations has helped to secure the largest drop in U.S. coal burning ever,” the club said in its year-ean review.

The campaign, which received major backing with a four-year $50 million commitment from Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2011, now includes legal and grassroots fights that target every stage of the coal lifecycle in more than 40 states. It has grown to become one of the largest and broadest grassroots environmental campaigns in the nation’s history, according to the club.

The following Sierra Club info-graphic tells the campaign tale of the tape:

Many investors lost big on coal, with numerous bankruptcies of coal mining companies and coal-burning utilities including Midwest Generation in Illinois, Patriot in West Virginia, and Dynegy in Texas. After declaring bankruptcy, Patriot – Appalachia’s third largest coal company – reached an agreement with the Sierra Club and its allies to end the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining and retire much of its large scale surface mining equipment. Coal’s poor economics were underscored news that the Great River Energy Spiritwood coal plant in North Dakota has sat idle since it was completed at a cost of $440 million earlier this year.

NRG Texas Energy announced this month that it will not proceed with plans to build the Limestone 3 coal unit in Jewett, Texas, 120 miles south of Dallas. NRG filed the initial applications to build the plant in 2006, when a handful of other Texas utilities were filing similar proposals to build more than a dozen new coal boilers in Texas. As of December 2012, the majority of these proposals have been cancelled, due to the changing economics of coal plants, the growth of wind energy in the state, and because of legal challenges and grassroots opposition.

Coal is on the run and battling on many fronts – 2012 may turn out to be a watershed year in its downward spiral, especially if 2013 sees the fall of Big Coal’s PNW export plans. That will be a great new year indeed.

Written by William DiBenedetto

December 28, 2012 at 2:07 am

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