Using military bases for coal exports ‘harebrained’

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee fired up over U.S. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke’s proposal.

Using military bases for coal exports ‘harebrained’

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee fired up over U.S. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke’s proposal.

Using military bases for coal exports ‘harebrained’

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee fired up over U.S. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke’s proposal.

 
   U.S. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke has floated the idea of using military bases or other federal properties to develop export terminals for coal or gas.
    The Associated Press reported Monday that Zinke told it, “I respect the states of Washington and Oregon and California, but also, it’s in our interest for national security and our allies to make sure that they have access to affordable energy commodities.” He added that may require the use of “some of our naval facilities, some of our federal facilities on the West Coast.”
    AP said he identified one prospect, the former Adak Naval Air Facility in the Aleutian islands, as a possible site for an export terminal for natural gas produced in the North Slope of Alaska.
    According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), coal exports from the United States to Asia more than doubled to 32.8 million short tons in 2017 from 15.7 million short tons in 2016.
   “Transportation costs also need to be low enough to make it worthwhile for producers to ship U.S. coal to Asia. Approximately 61 percent of U.S. coal exports to Asia originate from Norfolk, Virginia, and Baltimore, Maryland, a journey of up to 45 days,” EIA said.
   Coal companies want new terminals to be built on the West Coast, but are being opposed by environmentalists and politicians who are concerned about global warming and local pollution near proposed terminal sites.
    Washington State politicians denounced Zinke’s proposal.
    Gov. Jay Inslee blasted the idea in an online video. There are five major naval stations on Puget Sound, but he called the idea of using them for exports of coal a “harebrained scheme” and “another bad idea from the Trump administration.”
    “Our sailors have a national security mission and they do a great job. They should not have foisted upon them the responsibility of being coal stevedores. They need to be United States Navy sailors, that’s their job,” said Inslee.
   “Second, the president needs to know he will not be able to subvert our environmental laws. We are going to protect the clean water of Puget Sound, we are going to protect our clean air, and he will not succeed in ignoring our environmental laws. And third, it is more than disappointing that a week after the United Nations scientific community came together to warn the world that if we do not act against carbon pollution and climate change in the next 10 or 12 years we are going to suffer greatly. The Department of Defense has recognized climate change is a national security threat. The admirals, the generals understand what the real security threat is, and thats climate change.
    “We are going to fight this,” said Inslee. “I believe we will prevail.”
   U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash, issued a similar statement, saying, “The Trump administration is once again using national security as an excuse to drive their short-sighted agenda. The reality that this administration refuses to act on, however, is that climate change is one of the gravest national security threats facing this country. In 2017, I led my colleagues passing into law legislation that acknowledges climate change is a national security threat.”
    Cesia Kearns, deputy campaign director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in the Western region, said “Once again, Ryan Zinke is speaking on matters he does not understand nor does he have a say over. Infrastructure for coal and gas are being rejected because of their harm to clean water and direct threats to the public’s health — facts Zinke, Trump and corporate polluters cannot disregard. Zinke and the rest of the Trump administration can pontificate and attempt to circumvent federal and state laws, but the facts and the rejection of these fossil fuel terminals won’t change.”
    Inslee and other state officials in Washington are being sued by a company that wants to build a coal export terminal on the Columbia River. Six states — Wyoming, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Utah — have filed friend of the court briefs supporting Lighthouse Resources, an integrated coal company that wants to build the terminal.
    Lighthouse said the Washington governor and other state officials have “unreasonably delayed and denied a number of permits and approvals for a port facility that would enable the export of coal to U.S. allies and trading partners in Asia” and the states say Washington’s “actions have both the intent and effect of discriminating against and unduly burdening foreign and interstate commerce, in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s dormant commerce clause, the ICCTA and the federal Ports and Waterways Safety Act.”
    In another high-profile controversy, the city of Oakland, Calif., is trying to prevent a proposed bulk products terminal on its waterfront from handling coal. The terminal is planned on land owned by the city and leased to a developer.
   The city passed an ordinance banning coal operations, saying they would be a substantial danger to the health of residents.
   But U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria ruled in May that the ordinance was invalid because the city had relied on information in developing the law that was “riddled with inaccuracies, major evidentiary gaps, erroneous assumptions and faulty analyses.” As a result, he found applying the ordinance to the terminal was a breach of the development agreement the city had signed.
    The city has appealed the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
    Ironically, the site of the proposed terminal is the former Oakland Army Base.



    Total U.S. exports of coal in 2017 was 97 million short tons, a 61 percent increase from the 2016 level, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Fifty-seven percent of U.S. coal exports are metallurgical coal and 43 percent are steam coal, according to the EIA.
    EIA said steam coal, which is used to generate electricity, accounted for most of the increase in 2017 coal exports. India, South Korea and Japan were three of the top five recipients of U.S. steam coal exports in 2017.
   India, the largest importer of steam coal from the United States, imported 7.6 MMst of steam coal from the United States in 2017 — nearly three times as much as in 2016 — mainly to fuel growing electricity capacity in the country, EIA said. “Coal-fired generating capacity in India has more than doubled in recent years to meet growing electricity demand. Although India produces enough coal to meet most of its domestic needs, a large portion of India’s new coal-fired power plants require coal with higher quality and energy content than the coal that is typically produced in India, resulting in these power plants having to import coal from elsewhere.
    EIA said demand in South Korea is growing primarily because of the countrys plan to transition away from nuclear power, increasing its reliance on electricity generated from coal-fired power plants.
    In Japan, following the 2011 Fukushima disaster, nuclear power plants have been shut down and EIA said the country now “depends on imports for more than 90 percent of its energy needs, and U.S. steam coal exports to Japan were 2.7 MMst in 2017, up from 0.6 MMst in 2016.
    Supply disruptions can also affect the amount and destination of U.S. coal exports. In 2017, disruptions to coal supply from Australia and Indonesia — traditionally the main source of coal for many countries in Asia — meant that many Asian countries turned to imports from the United States to offset these disruptions, EIA reported.
Our business performance in Ocean is still challenged by increased bunker prices not being fully compensated through higher freight rates. However, we continued to see improved results in the third quarter after a very weak start to 2018.
The Port of Los Angeles processed 952,554 TEUs in October, a 27.2 percent increase year-over-year and the most cargo handled in a single month in the port’s 111-year history.
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