No Coal for You
January 1, 2018
In the January print edition we discuss the rejection of two shoreline permits by a Washington State hearing examiner for the construction of a $680 million coal terminal.
Cowlitz County hearing examiner, Mark Scheibmeir, said he rejected the permits because Millennium could not show that it would adequately compensate for significant adverse impacts identified in the state’s environmental impact statement.
Among the usual suspects of vehicle traffic, vessel traffic, rail capacity, rail safety and noise pollution were less concrete impacts, including social and community resources, cultural resources, tribal resources and greenhouse gas emissions.
This last should send chills down the spine of anyone wishing to do business in Washington State.
Scheibmeir says because Millennium can’t mitigate for all the global emissions that would be generated by the coal moving through the terminal, the terminal could not be built.
According to the Seattle Times, “a cradle-to-grave analysis estimated that the terminal would increase global greenhouse gas emissions by 2 million metric tons annually.”
This country owes much of its success to plentiful and inexpensive coal.
In the 1300s, according to the American Coal Foundation, Native Americans used coal for cooking, making clay pots, and heating. In the 18th century coal fueled the Industrial Revolution, and coal-fired boilers powered trains, factories and ships until well into the 20th century.
Coal is not the cleanest form of energy on the planet, but it is one of the cheapest and is extremely important to developing countries. In rejecting the permit based on how other countries would use the product, Mr. Scheibmeir has the temerity to suggest that his ideology is more important than the well-being and success of millions of people in developing countries.
Mr. Scheibmeir is a successful attorney who graduated from the University of Kansas in 1978. Kansas saw a dramatic increase in electrical needs in the early 1970s and by 1974, when Mr. Scheibmeir was a freshman “Jayhawk” producing term papers on his iconic IBM Selectric typewriter, the state was getting as much as 80 percent of its electricity from coal.
From a social standpoint, Mr. Scheibmeir was able to benefit from the use of coal to better himself, but children in developing countries should not be allowed the same privilege. From a strictly pragmatic viewpoint, coal will leave this country in spite of the efforts of Mr. Scheibmeir and his ilk, but families in Cowlitz County will be denied the chance for financial gain in the process. Either way, it shouldn’t be up to one man in Washington State to decide on the fate of people on the other side of the world. We suspect Santa left Mr. Scheibmeir a special present in his stocking last month.
Chris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org