Research & Maps

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 »

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?

Northwest Fossil Fuel Exports

fossil-fuels-052213

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 »

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 »

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 »

Chart: 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 »

Chart: 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 »

Chart: 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 »

Chart: Natives as a Percentage of Total Population by State

Native Population by State Rank

In North American terms, Cascadia is home to an unusually high concentration of people of Native descent. In fact, Northwest jurisdictions are home to more than three quarters of a million people of Native descent with nearly 200,000 in British Columbia and Washington each. As a share of the population, no state has more Native Americans than Alaska where nearly 20 percent of residents self-identify as all or part Native. Montana ranks 5th nationally while Washington, Oregon, and Idaho occupy the 9th, 10th, and 12th spots, respectively. British Columbia’s population has a very similar profile to its US neighbors. view graphic »

Infographic: Visualizing 48 Million Tons of Coal through Seattle

Visualize 48M Tons of Coal

The 48 million tons of coal slated to come through Seattle annually would make a pile 1/2 mile in diameter and ten feet taller than the Columbia Center. view graphic »