Report: Coal exports could add $2B to $6B annually to U.S. economy
By Erik Siemers
A new report from the Energy Policy Research Foundation says coal exports could add between $2 billion and $6 billion each year to the U.S. economy.
Business groups backing Pacific Northwest coal export proposals on Thursday lauded a new report that claims increased U.S. coal exports could bring between $2 billion and $6 billion per year to the U.S. economy.
The report comes from the Energy Policy Research Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that focuses on oil-related economic issues.
Around a half-dozen proposals have arisen in Washington and Oregon this year to build export terminals that would shuttle coal from the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming to energy-hungry Asian markets through the Pacific Northwest. Three projects proposed along the Columbia River near Portland represent around $1 billion in private investment.
Proponents laud the economic potential of the projects — Portland barge-makers Gunderson LLC and Vigor Industrial already plan to split $75 million worth of work related to one proposal. But critics are fighting coal exports primarily on two fronts — that they will lead to widespread rail congestion and that any economic gains aren’t worth the damage caused from enabling the increased use of greenhouse gas-emitting power sources.
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The Energy Policy Research Foundation report dismissed the criticism.
It called the rail traffic issues “state and local concerns which can be addressed through a number of remedies.”
On the larger environmental issue, the report claims that lower-cost coal from the Powder River Basin isn’t likely to have an effect on coal prices worldwide and neither the volume of world coal combustion or greenhouse gas emissions would change as a result.
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