Research by Topic

Economy & Jobs

Where Are the Highly-Impacted Communities in Washington?

To invest carbon revenue in the communities that need it most, we need to know where they are.

Steam Plume by James Gaither, cc.

In Washington and across the United States, communities of color and low-income neighborhoods are more likely to be exposed to air pollution and toxic chemicals. People of color and people with low incomes will also be disproportionately impacted by climate change. Exacerbating their vulnerability to pollution, low-income households and communities of color often have fewer resources available to respond to climate change and related health threats. A fair and equitable climate policy will ensure that Washington communities who have been and continue to be the most highly impacted by pollution have the opportunity to thrive. Other states have recognized the … Read more »

The Facts about Kinder Morgan

Energy giant Kinder Morgan has big ambitions. Best known for its empire of oil and natural gas pipelines, the firm aspires to enlarge its role in coal transport too. Expanding its export terminals in Louisiana and Texas would increase Kinder Morgan’s coal export capacity in the Gulf Coast region from roughly 5 million tons annually in recent years to nearly 29 million tons. These coal terminal expansions could boost Kinder Morgan’s profits, but they also raise questions about what the projects might cost neighboring communities. The company’s existing coal export operations are well known for blighting neighborhoods and fouling rivers. … Read more »

2014 Update: Grading Economics Textbooks on Climate Change

Good progress in economics textbooks' climate discussions

With a new school year approaching, this is a good time to update our review of the treatment of climate change in economics textbooks. As in our 2010 and 2012 reviews, some books hit the mark while others are wildly misleading, but we’re happy to say that there’s plenty of good news, especially at the top and the bottom of the grade distribution. The report card is below, with the full report available here: Care to comment? The report is also featured on our blog.  

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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 »

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 »

The Morrow Pacific Project

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


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 »

Ambre Energy: Caveat Investor

Ambre Energy Revenue, Expenses 2006-12

Would-be coal exporter Ambre Energy faces mounting financial, regulatory and other challenges that make it highly unlikely that the company will deliver on its promises. Read more »

Union Share of Coal Jobs 2007-2010

Coal Mining Employment Union and Non Trend

Modern-day coal mining is highly mechanized and it employs relatively few workers, many of them non-union. In the Powder River Basin—home to the coal planned for export to Asia via the Northwest—coal miners are overwhelmingly non-unionized, and even less so in recent years. View graphic »

Union and Non-Union Shares of Coal Jobs

Coal Mining Employment Union and Non

Modern-day coal mining is highly mechanized and it employs relatively few workers, many of them non-union. In the Powder River Basin—home to the coal planned for export to Asia via the Northwest—coal miners are overwhelmingly non-unionized. View graphic »