Gov. Inslee Hires Coal Lobbyist to Direct Policy Office

Controversial hire raises questions about coal export plans in Washington.

In a classic instance of the revolving door between government and industry, Governor Inslee has decided to hire Matt Steuerwalt as the director of his policy office effective May 1. In recent years, Steuerwalt has acted as a lead lobbyist for coal-fired power in Washington, as well as for a now-defunct coal export proposal. The news was first announced by Steuerwalt in a mass email sent last night.

The state is now wrestling with two major policy issues connected to coal: whether to permit large-scale coal export terminals and whether to phase out coal-fired electricity imported from other states. Given that Steuerwalt has recently been a paid lobbyist in support of coal in Washington, the move raises question about whether he will use his influence in the Inslee administration to advance an agenda more favorable to the coal industry. read more »

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Industry to Feds: “We Will Not Remove Any Unsafe Oil Rail Cars from Service”

What the oil industry's own numbers say about their commitment to safety.
Crude oil tank car chart

Image by US Surface Transportation Board (Slide 13 of the linked PowerPoint. It is in the public domain because it is an image published by the US government.)

“We will not remove any unsafe oil rail cars from service.” That was the upshot of oil industry testimony at a recent rail safety hearing before the US Senate.

To be fair, that isn’t a direct quote. But it is a direct consequence of the math.

Under questioning from Senators about the wisdom of continuing to use older unsafe tank cars to haul crude oil—especially the very volatile crude coming out of North Dakota—the American Petroleum Institute representative testified that  …  read more »


New Video: The Pacific Rim Coal Bubble

Coal prices rose then collapsed...leaving Northwest export projects hanging by a thread.

Hey, kids!  Check out our new video explaining why coal exports in the Pacific Northwest have become such a huge financial risk—with many blue-chip investors abandoning the space, leaving the field to risk-hungry, high-flying international speculators.

For those of you who don’t have the patience for a 3 minute video, here’s the short version:

  • In early 2009, China’s growing coal consumption outstripped its production—transitioning from being a net coal exporter to a net importer, which made huge waves throughout the Pacific
  •  …  read more »

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Weekend Reading 4/11/14

Radioactive socks, the violence of climate change, and more.
Original illustration by Nina Montenegro of


If you haven’t already seen this Washington Post infographic, it’s brilliant. It’s nominally about the search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370. But the story it actually tells is just how mysterious and unknowable the deep ocean remains.

Plus, UW researchers have developed new software to show what a child will look like as he or she ages. Cool or creepy? You be the judge.

Because I am one of the 7 percent who would be affected by the  …  read more »

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Oil Trainspotting, Part 2

What we're learning by looking for oil trains.

Users’ Guide: Climate messaging

13 guiding principles from ecoAmerica.

Another Look at Declining Seattle Traffic

Slow-moving trends add up to a big shift in how we get around.

What Does 17% Mean?

Proposed King County bus cuts would run deep.

Weekend Reading 4/4/14

Where children sleep around the world, #CancelColbert, and more.

Citizens Re-United?

Cascadia could lead the national response to McCutcheon.