Want to learn more about the details presented in our latest video? Check out this point by point breakdown below. And add your questions or reactions to our Facebook chat or the comments box below.
- Coal use is on the decline: Coal use for electricity is at the lowest levels since 1992, and generators are set to retire an additional 27 gigawatts of coal-fired power plants between now and 2016. Brad Plumer at the Washington Post does a great job breaking down the recent decline in coal use in America.
- Citizen activism is changing the landscape for coal companies: Last year, communities in Chicago won a ten year campaign to close the Fisk and Crawford coal plants. Cincinnati dumped coal-heavy Duke Energy in an effort to get 100% renewable energy for local homes and businesses. In the last week alone, protesters have descended on the headquarters of Peabody and Arch to demand an end to strip mining practices.
- The Federal Government is moving forward with long-overdue health and environmental standards for coal plants: The Obama Administration’s “mercury rule” alone is estimated to save 17,000 lives by holding polluters accountable for their toxic emissions.
- Power River Basin coal – a public resource: The majority of Power River Basin coal is federally owned and managed by the Bureau of Land Management, under the Department of Interior. As the agency states, “the BLM works to ensure that the development of coal resources is done in an environmentally sound manner and is in the best interests of the Nation. “
- Keeping coal in the ground: A new report from Greenpeace, and similar analysis by our friends at 350.org and the Carbon Tracker Initiative demonstrate that we can’t afford to mine and burn existing coal reserves and maintain a stable climate. Hurricane Sandy and the ongoing record drought in the Midwest underscore the risks to American lives and livelihoods in a warming planet.
- BLM’s sham coal auctions: Greenpeace’s Joe Smyth outlines the federal government’s coal leasing process and how it benefits polluters at the expense of US taxpayers. For more information, check out Undermining the Climate, a report by WildEarth Guardians.
- Taxpayer handouts to the coal industry: A recent study by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis found that the BLM’s coal leasing scheme has given a $30 billion and counting subsidy to the coal industry by undervaluing the “fair market value” of coal.
- Heavy Traffic Ahead: If successful, coal industry plans will lead to a massive increase in rail traffic throughout the West, with upgrades subsidized by the local, state, and federal government. Last year, Western Organization of Resource Councils released a thorough analysis of the impacts on communities from Billings to Bellingham. You can view a map of proposed export routes here.
- Threatened communities and ecosystems: As Greenpeace highlights in its Point of No Return report “The export route would cut through sensitive ecosystems, such as the Columbia River Gorge and Coos Bay, which are already suffering from the impacts of climate change and high mercury levels. These areas are home to several species of endangered or threatened salmon, steelhead, green sturgeon, euchalon, and leatherback sea turtles.” Meanwhile, communities risk adverse health impacts from coal dust and diesel pollution.
- Coal terminals on the Pacific Coast: The Sightline think tank put together a great summary of proposed coal export terminals in the Pacific Northwest, check it out. Peabody, Arch, and Ambre are also moving forward with export expansion in the Gulf and East Coast, to reach markets in Asia, Europe, and South America.
- Exports – a climate disaster: New plans to expand US coal exports could release 420 million tonnes of CO2 per year, by 2020, more than the entire country of Spain produces. A separate study by the Sightline Institute shows that the annual emissions are a bigger threat than the Keystone XL pipeline. Whether tar sands or coal exports, we can’t allow these new fossil projects to jeopardize existing progress in the US and abroad.
Now, join the movement!:
- Share this video and help expose this coal industry scheme.
- Check out Power Past Coal – an ever-growing alliance of health, environmental, clean-energy, faith and community groups that are working together to stop coal exports through ports on the US West Coast. The coalition has been tirelessly working to raise awareness of the issue throughout the region and to ensure that public officials are protecting local communities, not coal industry profits.
- President’s Day weekend, you can join the #ForwardonClimate in Washington DC and demand climate leadership from President Obama.