Friday, July 20, 2012

Oregon Earthquakes, Coal Shipments

Andrew Revkin has an update on developments to fortify Oregon schools for its next great earthquake. About half its schools are estimated to be at risk of collapse.

A commenter notes that the situation in downtown Seattle is even worse, with the possibility of several large skyscrapers coming down in the next great Cascadia earthquake, which is already overdue.

In other Pacific Northwest news, Peabody Energy is reported to be looking at exporting Powder River Basin (Wyoming) coal through Houston and New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. There are currently intense efforts to build coal export terminals in Oregon and Washington to ship coal to China, and this move seems to be a backup and not a replacement -- the plans are said to be for 5 to 7 million tonnes per year through the Gulf, whereas numbers upwards of 60 Mt/yr are being talked about here. But there's a great deal of public opposition here -- I went to two townhall-type meetings in the past month -- and this might be an indication they're working. (The town I'm currently living in would see at least a dozen 7,000-ft coal trains a day; I won't be here by then.) I've heard that 30% of Pacific Northwest air pollution currently comes from Asia.

Some people say that if the coal doesn't go through the Pacific NW it will get to China some other way. But doing so invariably makes the coal more expensive, which provides more incentive for China et al to look elsewhere for the energy they need -- and almost any alternative would be preferable to coal.

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