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 »
Research by Type
Puget Sound’s Pacific herring are a small fish with a whale-sized slate of problems. Many of the local herring stocks are in decline and despite some localized efforts to save them, their numbers haven’t bounced back. In this research memo, Sightline looks past the abundant rumors to examine the best science on Puget Sound herring. Are they jeopardized by disease, pollution, increasing numbers of predators, climate change, shoreline development, or fishing? And what about a new export terminal proposed at Cherry Point, home to one of the Sound’s most distinctive and threatened herring populations?
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. The Northwest enjoys a reputation for leadership in clean energy and environmental policy. Yet the new … read more »
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: .
A compilation of the coal industry’s leading thinkers explaining why the industry must have new coal ports in the Pacific Northwest. read more »
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 »
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 »
With US demand for coal plummeting, coal companies are looking to Asia to shore up sagging sales at home. Since 2011, several groups have launched ambitious plans to mine low-grade coal from Montana and Wyoming’s Powder River Basin and transport it by rail to ports in Oregon and Washington, where it will be shipped to overseas markets—particularly China. At full capacity, the proposed projects would send 140 million tons annually. The coal industry claims that Asia offers lucrative coal markets. Yet much of the available evidence is cautionary at best. Sightline’s memo, “US Coal Exports and Uncertainty in Asian Markets,” … read more »
High prices are taking a bite out of northwesterners’ appetite for gasoline. Total gas consumption in 2011 in Oregon and Washington has fallen modestly since the 2002 peak—driven by declines in per capita driving and gains in vehicle efficiency. Measured per person, though, residents of the two states have reduced their use of motor fuel to its lowest levels since the early 1960s—back when three dimes would buy you a gallon of gas. And early trends suggest that per capita consumption in the two states may be headed for a drop of as much as 2 percent in 2012. read more »
The greater metro Portland, Oregon, straddles two states, offering an intriguing natural experiment for gauging the effects of different growth management laws. The Oregon side operates under the nation’s oldest and most mature growth management system, while the Washington side is governed by a newer law. Over the last two decades, Clark County, Washington, accounted for the large majority of all rural and exurban housing and population growth in the greater Portland area. read more »