Washington Senate Endorses Socialism for Coal

Transportation bill would benefit a coal terminal and its international financiers.
Oregon Way rail crossing

First Wyoming, now Washington: the state Senate has endorsed an $85 million handout to the coal industry, in the form of a rail project whose sole identifiable beneficiary is the proposed and highly controversial Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export project in Longview, Washington.

The rail crossing project, innocuously labeled in the legislative record as the “SR 432 Longview Grade Crossing,” would build a massive vehicle overpass over a rail line near the banks of the Columbia, just south of Longview, Washington. The project would lift the entire Oregon Way and Industrial Way intersection, including the rail crossings circled in red, to let trains pass underneath.

The county projects rapid growth in train traffic at these rail crossings through 2035. But nearly three quarters of that projected growth is for the Millennium terminal. The remaining quarter would go to Barlow Point to the west of Millennium—an undeveloped site that, at present, has no known prospects for a tenant.

That means that the only known project that could boost traffic delays at Oregon Way and Industrial Way is the Millennium Bulk Terminals, a project whose principal proponent is wholly owned by a private equity fund based in the Cayman Islands. Read more »

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Ridley’s Coal Export Collapse Continues

Major coal port expansion now a stranded asset.

Take a look: coal exports through the Ridley terminal in northern British Columbia are in freefall.

The curious thing is that just a few years back, Ridley was so confident about its prospects that it undertook an ambitious plan to boost its throughput capacity from 12 million tons per year all the way up to 24 million tons.

At the time, the plan seemed reasonable: Asian demand seemed strong, and at least two new mine projects were slated to use Ridley’s extra capacity.

But fast forward a few years, and both new mining projects appear to be on indefinite hold…even as many of the terminal’s potential customers have shuttered their mines Read more »

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Weekend Reading 3/27/15

How our language privileges men, Paris's transportation experiment, and more.
Original illustration by Nina Montenegro of ghosttide.com.

Anna

When you can’t see the top of the Eiffel tour through the thick, gray haze, it counts as a bad smog day in Paris. Bad enough for the City of Lights to experiment to try to reduce driving. This past Monday, only cars with odd numbered license plates, electric and hybrid vehicles, and cars with three passengers or more were allowed to drive. In addition, transit was free, Paris’s bike share fleet was free, and an hour of  …  read more »

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The Oil Spill That Could Happen Here, Part 2

A reminder of just how common—and just how serious—oil pipeline spills are.

Since Washington state lawmakers convened in Olympia this January and took up legislation on oil transport, the nation has seen at least one major pipeline spill when an Exxon pipe leaked 40,000 gallons of crude into the Yellowstone River. It was the second time in just a few years that the pipeline had ruptured: it spilled 63,000 gallons into the river in 2011, for which regulators fined the oil giant $1 million.

The latest incident was a timely reminder of just how often—and just how serious—oil pipeline spills are. In fact, in the last five years, there have been two other serious oil pipeline spills that did meaningful damage to the environment and local communities. Those stories are warnings for communities near existing pipelines, many of which are slated for expansion. Read more »

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Voter Suppression is Exorbitantly Expensive

Four ways supporting voting rights saves taxpayer dollars.

Four Charts Show Carbon Pollution Accountability Act is Still Awesome

When polluters pay, jobs grow and Washington schools benefit.

Event: Curious About Carbon Pricing?

Learn how Oregon can make polluters pay.

More Tolls for Tacoma Narrows

Yet traffic forecasts still assume steady growth.

Weekend Reading 3/20/15

Prime-time defense of the Thin Green Line; profiling black Portland; and more.

Event: New Energy for a New Day

The promise of a post-carbon economy for Washington state.