Gov. Jay Inslee and Oregon counterpart John Kitzhaber sent a letter to the White House last week asking for a study of the climate-change and air-pollution effects of coal leases on federal lands and export of that coal to Asia.
That could put a new obstacle in the way of a series of shipping terminals proposed for Bellingham, Longview and the Oregon coast intended to send coal to Asia. Environmental agencies are already looking into their potential effects, but the two governors want a study of the broader effects of coal burning.
Opponents say the coal will be used regardless of whether it comes from the United States or somewhere else. But the governors said the proposed Oregon and Washington ports would export as much as 100 million tons of coal a year and increase carbon emissions by some 240 million tons a year.
“We believe the federal government must examine the true costs of long-term commitments to supply coal from federal lands for energy production, whether that production occurs domestically or in Asia,” the letter said. “We cannot seriously take the position in international and national policymaking that we are a leader in controlling greenhouse gas emissions without also examining how we will use and price the world’s largest proven coal reserves.”