Coal

A new study shows US greenhouse gas emissions are going up. The natural gas boom is partially to blame. It’s a big industry in our region.

The EPA is expected to announce a rollback of regulations on coal-fired power plants. Meanwhile, two new reports could cast some doubt on that decision.

As the demand for coal continues to decline in the U.S., two companies with mines in Montana and Wyoming are saving money by cutting worker benefits.

 

Calling it a matter of national security, the Trump administration wants to export coal to Asia through military bases along the West Coast. Companies are currently blocked from using ports in California and Washington State.

coa, Idaho Power
Nigel Duara / AP Images

It’s been more than a month since President Trump announced a withdrawal from the Paris Climate agreement. Part of that agreement included a goal of replacing coal-fired plants with natural gas and renewable energy. But in Idaho, there’s a move away from coal energy – largely driven by the economy.

Aaron Hockley / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho gets almost half of its electricity from coal-fired plants in nearby states. But where the coal is burned doesn’t change things for Kelsey Nunez. She’s the executive director of the Snake River Alliance and says Idaho’s dependence on the carbon-emitting source needs to end.

Marketplace

City officials in Sandpoint are defending banning the public from a meeting about oil and coal train traffic attended by three area mayors, a state senator, county commissioner and officials from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

Sandpoint Mayor Carrie Logan tells the Bonner County Daily Bee that the meeting Thursday was for information only and no actions were taken.

side.tracked / Flickr Creative Commons

Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad wants to build a second bridge in northern Idaho to handle an expected increase in traffic that includes coal and oil trains.

Railway spokesman Gus Melonas tells The Spokesman-Review in a story on Wednesday that the one bridge at Sandpoint restricts train traffic.

The railway wants to build another bridge about 50 feet west of the existing bridge that crosses Lake Pend Oreille where it meets the Pend Oreille River.

Idaho Power Co. can spend tens of millions to clean up its Wyoming coal-fired power plant and expect ratepayers to cover the project's cost, but regulators want quarterly updates on whether these emission-control investments continue to make sense as federal environmental rules change.

Announced Monday by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission, the decision aims to ensure Idaho's biggest utility isn't locked into the estimated $130 million project if alternatives to coal emerge as better for ratepayers.

Poll Finds NW Residents’ Support For Coal Eroding

Jun 19, 2013
Courtney Flatt / Earthfix

A new survey finds support for coal export terminals has dropped over the past year among Northwest residents. It also finds support for a region-wide approach to measuring the environmental impact of exporting coal.

A public opinion poll for EarthFix asked Northwest residents how they felt about transporting coal from Montana and Wyoming through the Northwest. That coal would then be exported to Asia. There are now three proposed export terminals in the region.

DHM Research surveyed 483 residents in Washington, Oregon and Idaho from Friday through Monday.

The federal agency in charge of approving Northwest coal export terminals told a congressional panel Monday it will not be considering the effects of burning coal on the climate.

The Army Corp of Engineers is overseeing the environmental review for the three terminals proposed for Washington and Oregon waterways. Together they could bring 100 million tons of coal to the Asian market from the Powder River basin of Wyoming and Montana.

Katie Campbell / EarthFix

The Federal government is missing out on tens of millions of dollars in revenue from companies that mine coal on public lands.  That’s according to a new report released by the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The new report details inadequate mine inspection practices and a lack of enforcement on the part of the Bureau of Land Management.

The number of coal export terminals proposed for Oregon and Washington has dropped from six to three. But a dozen Northwest groups aren’t backing down from their call for a regional impact study of the coal projects.

The groups filed a legal petition Wednesday with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They want the corps to study the environmental impacts of transporting coal by train and barge from mines in Montana and Wyoming to shipping terminals.

Courtney Flatt / Earthfix

A coalition of tribal leaders and politicians gathered in Seattle Monday to announce the formation of a new group that opposes coal exports in the Northwest.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and State Representative Reuven Carlyle were among a group of Washington politicians and tribal leaders who announced the creation of the Leadership Alliance Against Coal. The group says it will work to “raise awareness about the damaging economic, cultural and health impacts of coal trains and coal exports”.

Marketplace/APM

A coalition of environmental groups that oppose exporting coal through terminals in the Northwest have announced plans to file a lawsuit against BNSF Railway and several coal companies.

The groups say coal that escapes from trains is polluting the water and should be regulated under the Clean Water Act.

Environmental groups have collected samples of black rock in waterbodies along train tracks in the Northwest and found that some of that rock is coal.

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