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I'm trying to get everything ready and packed for spending a week in Montana taking part in a series of protests that run from August 12th-20th called Coal Export Action. I sat down at the computer for a moment and look at what's going on at D-Kos. The first thing I clicked on was FishOutofWater's diary Sea Ice Decimated, Huge Storm May Have Broken Arctic Ocean Stratification. Reading it strengthened my resolve that this trip to Montana Coal Export Action the absolutely the most important thing I can be doing right now.

The expansion of coal exports from the enormous coal deposits in the Powder River Basin  through the Pacific Northwest potentially could release more CO2 emissions than building the Keystone XL Pipeline. This report was released by the Sightline Institute:

Coal Exports Are Bigger Threat Than Tar Sands Pipeline pdf
A carbon comparison of Northwest coal plans and Keystone XL project.

By Eric de Place

The planned Keystone XL oil pipeline has earned major national attention for the damage it would do to the climate. At the same time, another climate drama is playing out with much less attention as coal companies make plans to export huge quantities to Asia by way of Pacific Northwest ports. It’s pretty clear that both projects are environmental horror stories, but I’ve been wondering: which one is worse?

So, from the “King Kong versus Godzilla” files, here’s my analysis of their carbon impacts. It turns out, coal exports are actually the bigger problem—and that’s really saying something.

The result surprised me: coal exports look to be an even bigger climate disaster than the pipeline. There are, in fact, quite a bit more direct emissions from burning the coal than from the oil. That’s true even when one counts the energy-intensive tar sands extraction and processing—and, of course, there are plenty of upstream emissions associated with coal mining that I’ve left out of the equation here. (In order to make a roughly direct comparison, I also omitted emissions associated with both products’ mining, refining, transportation, and so forth.) Clearly we can ill afford either one of these projects, but until we have a clear energy policy that respects climate science we’ll be wrestling with these kind of killer projects one at a time.

Much more in my diary from January:

Coal Mega Ports planned for Northwest could surpass CO2 impact from Keystone XL

Coal Export Action\


The Coal Export Action is a peaceful protest designed to pressure the Montana State Land Board to reject Arch Coal’s proposed Otter Creek mine. This mine is a critical piece of a much larger industry plan to transform the Northwest into a coal export zone. Stopping this one project will be a major blow to dirty energy and will help steer the Northwest to clean energy future.

This August, hundreds of people are converging at the Montana State Capitol to stop coal export mining. Coal industry giants are pushing members of the Montana State Land Board to let them build the Otter Creek mine, the “anchor project” in a larger industry scheme to transform southeast Montana and northeast Wyoming into a coal mining industrial zone. King Coal has used money to influence governments for decades, squashing labor unions, rural communities, and environmental health. Now environmentalists, ranchers, frontline communities, and students are standing up to fight back. No Coal Northwest is calling on you to join us for a week of non-violent action to stop King Coal.
I will be blogging about Coal Export Action next week.

Originally posted to Lefty Coaster on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 08:33 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks.

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