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Climate & Energy

The Northwest’s Pipeline on Rails

Westbound oil train, Essex, MT. Photo credit Roy Luck.

Since 2012, nearly a dozen plans have emerged to ship crude oil by train to Northwest refineries and port terminals. Moving large quantities of oil by rail would be a major change for the Northwest’s energy economy, but so far the proposals have largely escaped notice. Most media accounts to date have presented only a fragmented view of the developments, and government regulators are evaluating the projects largely in isolation from one another. This memo presents the first comprehensive, region-wide review of all the oil-by-rail projects planned or currently operating in the Pacific Northwest. It finds that: In Oregon and … Read more »

The Thin Green Line

Thin Green Line, by Don Baker, for Sightline Institute

The Pacific Northwest stands at a crossroads of dirty energy exports and hungry Asian markets. We are the thin green line between the two, and our choices together in the coming years not only will determine the health and safety of our local communities, but also will help shape our planet’s future. (Video version available, too!) View graphic »

Keystone XL vs. Coal Exports

Keystone XL vs Coal Exports, Original Sightline graphic

A look at the carbon dimensions of two climate change disasters in the making: the Keystone XL Pipeline and new coal export terminals in the Northwest. View graphic »

Current Crude Oil-by-Rail Projects

Map_Current Crude Oil-by-Rail Projects_Updated Feb 18, 2014

In Oregon and Washington, 10 refineries and port terminals are planning, building, or already operating oil-by-rail terminals. View graphic »

WA Extracted Fuel Tax Loophole

For nearly six decades, Washington State has given away hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue through an “accidental” loophole with no clear public policy objective. Giving away millions to the state’s oil industry every year is hard to understand. At a time when the state is facing budget shortfalls and is trying to cut emissions, subsidizing Big Oil simply doesn’t add up. It’s for the legislature to decide whether we’ll close this loophole to help shore up the state budget or continue this hidden handout to oil companies. Read the factsheet here:

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Peabody Energy, Gateway Pacific, and the Asian Coal Bubble

Coal Prices Gateway Peak to Aug 2013

A new Sightline report shows that the collapse in coal prices jeopardized Peabody Energy’s coal export plans. Read more »

Visualizing 8 Million Tons of Coal through Portland

Portland Coal Pile, June 2013

The 8 million metric tons of coal slated to come through Portland annually would make a pile 1/3 of a mile in diameter and three feet taller than the Wells Fargo Center. View graphic »

The Morrow Pacific Project

High costs could turn coal export plan into a terminal of last resort

Ambre_handling

The Morrow Pacific project, a coal export venture being pursued by Australian firm Ambre Energy, aims to ship coal by rail to Oregon’s Port of Morrow on the Columbia River, barge it downstream to a second port, and load it onto cargo ships bound for Asia. Recent financial disclosures suggest that the project would face unusually high costs in three separate areas: High handling costs. Unlike conventional export projects that would handle coal at a single location, the Morrow Pacific project would transfer coal twice—first from rail cars to barges, and later from barges to ocean-going vessels. The extra step … Read more »

Northwest Fossil Fuel Exports

Editor’s Note, September 2014: Please now refer to our updated report on Northwest fossil fuel exports. Across British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington, there are active proposals for seven new or expanded coal terminals, three oil pipelines, and six new natural gas pipelines. The projects are distinct, but they can be denominated in a common currency: the tons of carbon dioxide emitted if the fossil fuels were burned. Taken together, these projects would be capable of delivering enough fuel to release an additional 761 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, equivalent to seven Keystone XL pipelines. … Read more »

Planned Northwest Coal Exports Would Not “Just Go to Canada”

A compilation of the coal industry’s leading thinkers explaining why the industry must have new coal ports in the Pacific Northwest. Read more »