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article imageNational security behind using military ports to ship coal

By Karen Graham     Oct 16, 2018 in Environment
The Trump administration refuses to give up on shipping coal from West Coast ports, even though the states are opposed to the idea. Citing national security, Trump plans on using military ports to get around states' opposition.
The Associated Press is reporting that the Trump administration is considering a plan to use West Coast military installations or other federal properties to open the way for more U.S. fossil fuel exports to Asia.
the idea was described to the AP by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and two Republican lawmakers. “I respect the state of Washington and Oregon and California,” Zinke said in an interview with AP. “But also, it’s in our interest for national security and our allies to make sure that they have access to affordable energy commodities.”
This plan is being considered despite the fact that Washington and Oregon authorities have rejected six terminal proposals because of safety and public health concerns, notes EcoWatch. And Zinke's home state of Montana is part of a lawsuit with five other states and a coal company suing Washington State for denying terminal permits.
The Port of Longview in Washington state  established in 1921  has eight marine terminals handling a...
The Port of Longview in Washington state, established in 1921, has eight marine terminals handling a wide range of cargo.
Sam Beebe
The coal industry has had plans on the books for at least seven coal terminals on the West Coast for the last 10 years. To the coal sector, the West Coast is nothing more than the gateway to Asia and the global market. Five of the projects have been canceled, mainly because of bitter opposition from California, Oregon and Washington state.
Zinke, in talking about the facilities that could be available for use to ship coal could only come up with a nearly abandoned Alaska military base, Adak Naval Air Facility in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, so it was clear he had not put much effort into his homework.
But while the Constitution may grant the president considerable powers in acting on behalf of national security, constantly invoking national security as a way to save coal is getting to be old news for most people.
This is the attitude of many voters in Montana over the state's proposed legislation in February that would set aside state funds that would allow the state legislatures to hire private attorneys to sue Washington and California over their coal policies, even though Wyoming is facing an $850 million state deficit.
In June 2016  The Oakland City Council voted unanimously to ban the handling and storage of both coa...
In June 2016, The Oakland City Council voted unanimously to ban the handling and storage of both coal and coke at the port. The Oakland City Council voted to ban the handling and storage of coal and coke at the city’s terminals and bulk material facilities.
Robert Campbell/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Digital Visual Library
And in Utah, Republican Representative Mike Noel saw his legislation to set aside $2 million in state money to sue California pass a subcommittee in February. Rep. Noel's proposed legislation is in addition to a lawsuit already in federal court in Oakland, brought by attorneys for coal export terminal developer Phil Tagami and Utah coal producer Bowie Resources, as reported by Digital Journal January 30.
Many people are already saying this move by Noel is a big waste of taxpayer money. "Forcing Utahans to invest $2 million into this industry is asking them to take on an incredible risk that will yield no long-term benefits," said Ashley Soltysiak, Utah chapter director for the Sierra Club.
Actually, the best suggestion to come out of this "save the coal industry" mess is what Washington Governor Jay Inslee had to say about the White House idea: Inslee called the proposal a “harebrained idea,” and said President Donald Trump should instead consider that climate change represents a national security threat.
More about coal exports, west coast ports, military installations, Trump, state opposition
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