Research by Region

Washington

REPORT: Federal Coal Leasing Agency Sets “Fair Market Values” Too Low

Unfair pricing practices fuel coal exports, shortchange the American public

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 24, 2014 FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Bob LeResche, (907) 723-2506; Kevin Dowling, WORC staff, (406) 252-9672, [email protected]; or Serena Larkin, Sightline Institute, (206) 447-1880 x111, [email protected] Seattle, Wash. – Despite explosive growth in U.S. coal exports in recent years, and mounting evidence that coal companies plan for even faster export growth, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) ignores exports when setting the selling price of publicly owned coal, according to a new report by Sightline Institute, produced in collaboration with the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC), Northern Plains Resource Council, Powder River Basin Resource … read more »

Unfair Market Value

By Ignoring Exports, BLM Underprices Federal Coal

Coal companies operating in the western United States purchase much of their coal through federal coal leasing programs operated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which allow private coal companies to mine and sell coal owned by the American public. Although a growing share of federal coal is exported to overseas customers, the BLM has almost completely ignored the value of export sales when determining the minimum price it will accept for federally owned coal. The failure to assess the economics of coal exports has led the agency to systematically underprice coal owned by the American public, potentially leading to millions of dollars in foregone revenue each year. This report documents cases in which coal companies have purchased low-cost federal coal, and then resold it overseas at much higher prices. It also documents examples of coal companies that have clearly stated their intention to export even more federal coal in the future. 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:

Report: Peabody Energy’s Northwest Coal Export Plans Would Lose Billions at Today’s Prices

SEATTLE, WA.///October 22, 2013///The steep drop in Pacific Rim coal prices over the past two years has put Powder River Basin coal miner Peabody Energy at risk of massive losses if it tried to ship coal through the proposed Gateway Pacific terminal outside of Bellingham, Washington, according to a new report by the nonprofit Sightline Institute. Sightline’s analysis shows that, in today’s market, Peabody Energy would lose roughly $10 per ton if it tried to ship its coal to Asia through the proposed Gateway Pacific terminal. And if Peabody tried to utilize the full 24 million metric tons of annual … read more »

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 »

Unlocking Home

Three Keys to Affordable Communities

Unlocking Home Cover

Alan Durning takes a hard look at the pinch of expensive urban housing and sees what many others have missed. Hidden in city regulations is a set of simple but powerful barriers to housing for all. These rules criminalize history’s answers to affordable dwellings: the rooming house, the roommate, the in-law apartment, and the backyard cottage. In effect, cities have banned what used to be the bottom end of the private housing market. They’ve made urban quarters expensive and scarce. In Unlocking Home: Three Keys to Affordable Community, Durning details how to revive inexpensive housing in walkable neighborhoods—at no cost to the public—by striking a few lines from municipal law books. read more »

The Real Story of Puget Sound’s Disappearing Herring

Pacific herring, SteveWyshy, Flickr.

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?