The Thin Green Line
The Pacific Northwest stands squarely between the most voracious energy markets in the world and huge fossil fuel deposits in the interior of North America—Powder River Basin coal, Bakken shale oil, Alberta tar sands, and remote natural gas fields. Big energy companies plan to unearth these vast reserves of carbon-intense fuels and put them up for sale in Asia.
If they are successful, these energy firms will unleash the carbon equivalent of roughly five Keystone XL Pipelines. But to get their products to market, energy companies first have to build new terminals and pipelines to move all that fuel. They need destinations for the scores of oil and coal trains that they plan to run across the Northwest, and they need right-of-ways to lay new pipelines.
In short, they need our permission.
So it is by geographic accident that the Northwest, perhaps the greenest corner of North America, will play an outsize role in determining the planet’s climate future. Will we double-down on coal and oil use, thereby jeopardizing our chance at a stable climate? Or will we act as a thin green line, insisting that we must do better—that our economy and our children demand a cleaner future?
Recent Reports & Graphics
New analytical model reveals which remaining mines and communities are most at risk from unplanned shutdown
A Sightline Institute energy market update.
Risk assessment shows Columbia River, Tacoma, and Cherry Point are in the crosshairs of the fossil fuel industry.