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Increase of Coal Exports to Asia Could Affect Communities en Route

Department of Energy EIA

A Western Organization of Resource Councils report says an increase of Powder River Basin coal exports from Pacific ports to Asia could bring unconsidered problems. The environmental group’s report alleges that increased coal traffic would congest rail lines, bring coal dust, and force communities to front billions of dollars for infrastructure improvements.

The report comes out amid an industry-wide slowdown that has coal producers scrambling to tap into new markets. Exporting to Asia is one promising idea, and new ports have been proposed in the Pacific Northwest as well as on the Gulf Coast, to accommodate increasing volumes of coal going abroad.

Beth Kaeding of the Northern Plain Resource Council says potential impacts on communities along the route should be included in Environmental Impact Statements.

“We feel this is connected and cumulative action to just expanding the ports. These are real impact to us, and they should be included in that environmental documentation,” said Kaeding.

A couple of recent coal train derailments and concern over China’s quick growth and its effect on global warming are also issues surrounding the potential increase of exports to Asia.  

Irina Zhorov is a reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She earned her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA from the University of Wyoming. In between, she worked as a photographer and writer for Philadelphia-area and national publications. Her professional interests revolve around environmental and energy reporting and she's reported on mining issues from Wyoming, Mexico, and Bolivia. She's been supported by the Dick and Lynn Cheney Grant for International Study, the Eleanor K. Kambouris Grant, and the Social Justice Research Center Research Grant for her work on Bolivian mining and Uzbek alpinism. Her work has appeared on Voice of America, National Native News, and in Indian Country Today, among other publications.
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