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Bill McKibben and Do The Math Tour began in Seattle on November 7th to a sell-out crowd.  

The election is behind us.  We won.  It feels good.  The Democrats have more power and Daily KOS played a huge role in that success.  

Now it is time to get down to other business.  It is time to put climate change on the front burner.  It is time for cynicism to be put to bed.

The above mentioned tour is a concerted attempt to do just that.  It is a way to focus the nation's attention on this most critical issue.  

You can help promote this tour by spreading the word on Twitter and Facebook, encourage people to buy tickets (go to this link to click onto city to sign up and buy tickets), giving donations for the tour, and promoting the tour with posters in your town or announcements at churches, schools or community meetings.  To read more about this tour please see the excellent post by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse.

There are two very significant fossil foolish massive projects that need to be stopped to begin to change the trajectory of climate change and CO2 emissions.    One is the Keystone Pipeline and the other is the plan by Peabody and partners to ship coal to Asian markets.  In this diary I want to talk about coal.  

The Sierra Club has a nationwide program they call "Beyond Coal". Their accomplishments have been impressive.


In 2010, in the face of strong opposition from the Sierra Club and our partners, construction did not begin on a single new coal-fired power plant in the United States for the second straight year. Additionally, we have been very successful in kicking coal out of the US. In the past two years, we have either retired or have slated for retirement ten percent of America’s coal plants.
On its face it would be easy to jump to the conclusion that the fight to transition away from the most polluting power source currently in use is being won.  That would be wrong.  Let's take a closer look at what is currently happening in this country and worldwide in terms of coal.

Coal companies, seeing little future growth domestically, have a new plan: strip-mine coal in Montana and Wyoming, transport it on long coal trains and massive cargo ships through Washington and Oregon, and sell it to Asia.

Coal Train Facts does a great job of describing what has happened, what is planned and what the impacts will be for all parties impacted by this proposal. Here are some important excerpts from the site.  (I encourage you to click on the active link and read  the entire article.)


China is building at least one new coal-fired power plant every week and has a seemingly limitless appetite for coal. The Powder River Basin in southeast Montana and northeast Wyoming has a seemingly limitless supply. There is increasing interest linking this supply with Asian demand through west coast coal terminals. Two potential sites in Washington state—Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point (Carrix/SSA Marine,Peabody Energy) and Millenium Bulk Terminal at Longview (Ambre Energy, Arch Coal)—are currently the most active projects, although other sites both in the States and in Canada are under consideration......

    There are currently plans to develop the largest coal export facility in North America at Cherry Point, in northwest Washington state. The Gateway Pacific Terminal, a project of Pacific International Terminals, would be owned by SSA Marine, which is owned by Carrix, partnered with Goldman Sachs. Coal mined from the Powder River Basin by Peabody Energy would be hauled by trains along BNSF rail lines. The coal train corridor extends from mines in Montana and Wyoming through Sandpoint, Idaho to Spokane, down through the Columbia River Gorge, then up along the Puget Sound coast, passing through Longview, Tacoma, Seattle, Edmonds, Everett, Mt. Vernon, Bellingham, Ferndale and all points in between...



Transporting coal from the Powder River Basin to proposed west coast terminal sites would require unprecedented levels of regional rail usage. There are concerns not only about dramatically increased rail traffic, but also about negative impacts associated with coal trains specifically, due to train length, weight, content, and polluting capacity. The terminal at Cherry Point would see the addition of approximately 30 miles of coal trains daily to the BNSF rail line that runs along the Puget Sound coast. This would likely constrain passenger rail and adversely affect the transport of freight other than coal. The Washington state rail system is already nearing practical capacity; infrastructure would need to be upgraded to accommodate proposed usage. BNSF has been largely silent on the issue of rail improvements ; it remains unclear who would pay, and what kind of physical and economic disruption such upgrades would cause...



While the Gateway Pacific Terminal and the associated coal trains would be active in only the transport and export of coal, it is important to recognize that the only function of coal transport is to link coal mining to coal combustion: GPT and related enterprises need to be considered as part of this larger system. Each of the various processes associated with coal have negative effects on local economies, public health, communities and the environment. The coal mines in the Powder River Basin (Montana and Wyoming) continue to degrade local aquifers and water supplies. Coal combustion in China presents a serious health risk to the hundreds of millions of people, especially children, who live in affected airsheds. Coal combustion is also associated with negative impacts that transcend geographic borders. Ocean acidification, acid rain, mercury emissions, and climate change affect global populations, regardless of where the coal is burned. The financial cost accrued from health and environmental damages from coal mining, processing, transport and combustion are currently estimated at a third to over half a trillion dollars annually in the U.S. alone.
Here is a stunning statistic. If China's carbon usage keeps pace with its economic growth, the country’s carbon dioxide emissions will reach 8 gigatons a year by 2030, which is equal to the entire world’s CO2 production today.

World Coal Production

These are the most recent forecasts in Coal-fired Boilers: (World Analysis and Forecast published by the McIlvaine Company.)


World coal-fired power plant capacity will grow from 1,759,000 MW in 2010 to 2,384,000 MW in 2020. Some 80,000 MW will be replaced. So there will be 705,000 MW of new coal-fired boilers built. The annual new boiler sales will average 70,000 MW. The annual investment will be $140 billion.

    Coal-fired power in Asia will rise to 1,464,000 MW in 2020 up from 918,000 MW this year. This will account for an increase in CO2 of 2.6 billion tons.

    Coal-fired power in India will rise from 95,000 MW to 294,000 MW over the next 11 years. This accounts for the largest percentage rise (300) plus the biggest quantitative rise (199,000 MW). So India alone will increase CO2 by 955 million tons per year

    So even if the US and Europe were to cut CO2 emissions by far more than the targeted 20 percent, the total CO2 increase from Asia will offset it by a wide margin.

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) scoping period began on September 21 in connection with the Cherry Point shipping terminal  known as the Gateway Pacific Terminal.  Public written comments can be submitted through this site.  There are also a series of upcoming meetings to submit testimony.  

Ferndale, WA

3–7 p.m. Thursday, November 29
Ferndale Events Center
5715 Barrett Road
Ferndale, WA


4–7 p.m. Tuesday, December 4
Spokane County Fairgrounds
404 N Havana Street
Spokane Valley, WA


4–7 p.m. Wednesday, December 12
Clark College, Gaiser Student Center
1933 Fort Vancouver Way
Vancouver, WA

Seattle, WA

4-7 p.m. Thursday, December 13
Washington State Convention Center, Ballroom 6F
800 Convention Place
Seattle, WA

Remember that saying "Think globally - Act locally." When thinking of coal that is exactly what we need to do. We might be making some progress locally in this country but when you broaden out our thinking and focus on the issue from a global perspective it is hard to use the word "progress" to describe what is currently happening.

And if the current proposal to ship coal from the west coast of the U.S. to China becomes a reality we will have taken a huge ass-backwards step in our fight to correct course to mend our fossil foolish ways.

This proposal to ship coal across this country by rail to be put on a tanker to be shipped half way around the world to be burned in China is just plain crazy.    CO2 emissions do not recognize borders.  We live in the same world and breath from the same air. Get involved, please.

"If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit." Shitbit by John Crapper aka Poop John the First


Originally posted to Climate Change SOS on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 03:23 PM PST.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots and Climate Hawks.

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