Increase of Coal Exports to Asia Could Affect Communities en Route

Jul 12, 2012

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.