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Coal In The Northwest

Ongoing Coverage Of The Region's Coal Export Proposals

Coal Scorecard: Your Guide To Coal In The Northwest

Here’s your guide to coal in the Northwest: The latest on where the terminals are proposed and how increased train traffic may affect communities along way. Full Story »

Documents Reveal Coal Exporter Disturbed Native American Archaeological Site At Cherry Point

Jay Julius is a Lummi tribal council member and fisherman. He cites the Pacific International Terminals' non-permitted actions at Cherry Point as a source of tribal opposition to the Gateway Pacific Terminal.


by Ashley Ahearn

Documents show how the company that wants to build a coal terminal along Washington state’s Puget Sound has already disturbed a well-documented archaeological site, without consulting nearby tribes.


Coal Ships And Tribal Fishing Grounds

Tribal treaty fishing rights give Washington tribes the opportunity to weigh in on, and even block, projects that could impact their fishing grounds.


by Ashley Ahearn

A landmark legal decision in the 1970s recognized Native American tribes’ legal right to weigh in on proposed projects, like coal export terminals, that could impact their fishing grounds. They might even be able to stop them.


Documents Reveal Army Corps’ Earlier Concerns About Coal Trains And Wetlands

The TransAlta Centralia Generation Plant has been burning coal since 1971. The coal burned there was mined on-site until 2006 when the Centralia mine closed and the power plant began bringing in Powder River Basin coal by train.

by Ashley Ahearn

Public documents reveal concerns raised by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the not-so-distant past about how transporting coal by rail could pollute sensitive wetlands in the Northwest.


COAL: The Documentary

A new KCTS 9/EarthFix documentary examines the complex issues surrounding the debate around proposals to export Powder River Basin coal through Northwest ports.


by EarthFix

The Northwest is square in the middle of a controversial global debate over proposed coal export projects. A new KCTS 9/EarthFix documentary examines the complex issues surrounding the debate.


Voices Of Coal: An EarthFix Multimedia Special

Pictured (clockwise from upper left corner): Bonnie Meltzer, Mark Lowry, L.J. Turner, Robbie Robinson, Anne McIntyre, Jay Julius, a vacant storefront in Coos Bay, Ore., and Robert Hill. Downtown Camas, Wash. pictured in center.

by EarthFix

Should coal from Wyoming and Montana be transported through the Pacific Northwest and shipped to Asia? In our multimedia special, “Voices of Coal” we bring you nine diverse perspectives from people across the region with a stake in that debate.


Army Corps Shrinks Endangered Species Review For Columbia River Coal Export Project

A train snakes through the Port of Morrow. The empty space to the right is where the Boardman part of the Morrow Pacific Project could be located.

by Cassandra Profita

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reducing the area it will consider in its endangered species review for the Morrow Pacific coal export terminal proposed on the Oregon side of the Columbia River.


What About The Climate Change Costs Of Exporting Coal?

Twelve-year-old Rachel Howell was one of the youngest to speak at a coal export hearing in Seattle. Her main concern about exporting coal is climate change.


by Ashley Ahearn

The prospect of exporting coal from Wyoming and Montana to be sold on the Asian market has many raising questions about the local and regional environmental impacts of moving that coal through the Northwest. But how is climate change playing into the debate over coal exports?


Northwest Railroads Will Need Improvements To Handle Coal Trains

A freight train idles off the mainline in the heart of The Portland Triangle. Two passenger trains and another freight train passed by the idling train over the course of about an hour in January.


by Bonnie Stewart

Proposals to build five coal export terminals in the Pacific Northwest would bring as many as 47 more freight trains through the region each day. Currently 150 to 175 trains travel in the area each day moving through rail passages that already are congested.


What Coal-Train Dust Means For Human Health

The Westshore Terminal near Vancouver, B.C. handles about 30 million tons of coal per year, loading it onto ships for export. Westshore spent $7 million upgrading pumps, rain guns and misting devices around the site used to dampen and control coal dust.


by Ashley Ahearn

Environmental groups, public health officials and communities along rail lines are asking questions about the potential impacts of transporting coal through the Northwest. Some of those questions are about coal dust and how it could affect human health.


Diverse Voices Heard At EarthFix Seattle Coal Export Panel

Ashley Ahearn of KUOW/EarthFix moderates a panel of experts who talked at Town Hall Seattle Wednesday evening about plans to build coal export terminals in the Pacific Northwest.


by EarthFix

Several hundred people gathered at Town Hall Seattle for an EarthFix panel discussion about coal exports in the Northwest.


10 Things To Know About Leasing Coal On Public Land

A senatorial investigation could shed new light on the ways companies influence the royalties they pay to extract coal from public lands.


by Bonnie Stewart, Amelia Templeton

Calls for tighter oversight of federal coal leases could impact the future of five coal export terminals proposed for the Pacific Northwest. Here are 10 things you should know about the federal coal leasing program in the Powder River Basin.


American Coal Companies Look To The Northwest For Export Opportunities

Bellingham residents enjoy Boulevard Park, which is sandwiched between the train tracks and Bellingham Bay.


by Ashley Ahearn

American coal companies are looking to the Northwest as the fastest way to bring their product from the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana to Asian markets. There are now five ports in Washington and Oregon considering coal export terminals. In part two of our series on Coal in the Northwest, we head to the site of what could one day be the largest coal export facility on the West Coast.


What Wyoming Coal Means For The Northwest - The View From Coal Country

Coal trains being loaded at the Black Thunder Mine in the Powder River Basin.


by Ashley Ahearn, Katie Campbell

Five ports in Washington and Oregon are considering building export terminals to ship American coal to Asia. The debate is heating up in the Northwest over the economic promise and environmental impacts. But 1,200 miles away in Wyoming, coal mining is already delivering dollars and driving concerns about water quality and changing lifestyles.


Columbia River Towns May Team Up To Export Coal

Among the various proposals to build coal export terminals in the Northwest, only one of them would rely on two different ports. That has residents of the Columbia River towns of Boardman and Clatskanie, Oregon asking if coal will be good for their communities. Full Story »


EarthFix Wins Online Journalism Award For Coal Coverage

by Toni Tabora-Roberts

We snagged a prize at the 2013 Online Journalism Awards for Best Explanatory Reporting (Small) for our coverage of Coal in the Northwest.





Behind The Corps/ Ecology Break Up Over Coal


by Ashley Ahearn

Coal export proposals are getting a close look in the region... but the process is getting more complicated after the recent break up between the U.S. Army Corps and the Washington Department of Ecology.


EarthFix Conversations: Rep. Jim McDermott Talks About His Coal Tax Bill

by Ashley Ahearn

Congressman Jim McDermott has served in the House since 1989. His newest bill is called the True Cost of Coal Act of 2012. EarthFix's Ashley Ahearn sat down with the congressman to talk about his proposal to tax coal to offset the effects of mining and transporting it.


EarthFix Conversations: Counting Up Coal’s CO2


by Ashley Ahearn

A half-dozen Northwest ports are considering building terminals to export coal to Asia. In this EarthFix Conversation, Ashley Ahearn talks to climate expert Steve Davis about what mining, transporting and burning American coal looks like in terms of CO2 emissions.


EarthFix Conversations: The Economic Pull Of Coal Exports In The Northwest

by Cassandra Profita

A half-dozen different coal export proposals have popped up around the Pacific Northwest. It isn't exactly an industry Oregon and Washington have been trying to lure. In fact, the projects face considerable opposition throughout the region. But the economic incentives to export are pretty strong, too. For more on the tradeoffs of coal exports in the Northwest, EarthFix spoke with Darren Epps, editor of Platts' market analysis newsletter on U.S. Coal.


EarthFix Conversations: Coal Coming Through A Community Near You?

by Ashley Ahearn

There's a lot of coal in the middle of the U.S. and China wants it, putting the Northwest right in the middle of transportation routes. EarthFix's Ashley Ahearn gets the lowdown on coal and how it's moving through the Northwest.