Exports — including coal — are key to a sustainable economy
By Jodi Guetzloe Parker, Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council
Jodi Guetzloe Parker is the executive secretary treasurer of the Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council.
Editor's note: This blog post was written in response to "Coal export makes no sense for Oregon."
In an economy that’s quickly globalizing, one of the surest ways to create jobs is to increase exports. The President has named it one of our top national priorities, and Gov. John Kitzhaber has said the same for Oregon.
Increasing exports "will pay huge dividends for our citizens," Kitzhaber has said, and the state has only "scratched the surface" on the economic opportunity the industry can create for working families and communities.
We agree. But for the first time since the recession began, Oregon is on pace to export less this year than last.
A strong trade economy must respond to demand and that’s why we support the construction of new coal export terminals in the state. Whether we build these terminals or not, studies show that demand for coal in Asian markets will increase massively in coming years and they’re going to buy it somewhere. These proposed terminals fit squarely into our state’s strategy to create jobs by growing exports and there's a comprehensive regulatory system in place, as well as commitments from the involved parties, to ensure they’re done safely and responsibly.
Oregon has built a tradition as one of the nation's top exporters. Between 2004 and 2008, trade-related employment in the state grew more than twice as fast as total employment. Even after the recession began, a Business Roundtable report stated that roughly 20 percent of jobs in the state were related to trade.
Trade has been a lynchpin of Oregon’s economic recovery. Since 2009, the state export industry has grown each year, and serves as one of the state’s top job creators. Last year, the state shipped over $18 billion in products, nearly at pre-recession levels.
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