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Economy & Jobs

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

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 »

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 »

Jobs Per $1 Million of Investment

Jobs Per 1M Investment

Modern-day coal mining is highly mechanized and it employs relatively few workers, many of them non-union. Economists at the University of Massachusetts’ Political Economy and Research Institute have shown it’s hard to make a worse jobs investment than coal. Sightline Institute converted the data to a viewer-friendly graph. View graphic »

Carbon Tax

A carbon tax would levy a charge on the CO2 emissions from fossil fuels purchased for combustion in the state, as well as on the carbon content of electricity imported from other states. In Washington, a carbon tax of $30 per ton of CO2 would net an estimated $2.3 billion each year. The proceeds could be used to reduce taxes on families and businesses, or to provide funding for transportation, clean energy technology, or public education. Read more »