Today in Salt Lake City, RAN has joined with climate activists, air quality advocates and local labor organizations to tell coal giant Ambre Energy that the coal rush is over.
Coal kingpin Ambre Energy is making a major push to build America’s first West Coast coal port in the Pacific Northwest. That’s right: Ambre has chosen the breathtaking Columbia River as its main artery for the Longview coal port, which would ship millions of tons of coal each year to Asia. And that’s why the company’s Salt Lake City headquarters was chosen as the site of the protest today. More than 50 people from labor organizers to environmental activists have come out today to draw a line in the sand. They are saying, “We don’t want this dirty coal burned here in the U.S., and we don’t want it burned anywhere else, either.” They held three big banners right in front of Ambre’s headquarters: “Stop Coal Exports,” “Ambre Energy: Exporting Pollution,” and “Clean Energy Clean Air.” Here’s how RAN’s own Scott Parkin, who helped organize today’s protest, put it:
Plain and simple, coal export terminals continue the mining and burning of coal at a time when phasing out coal is essential to our health. With Ambre Energy’s coal export terminals, the U.S. is exporting our problems, our pollution, instead of solving them with clean energy advancements.
As the U.S. begins to shift away from carbon-emitting, coal-fired power plants, coal producers are gearing up to ship more coal overseas. Advocates for clean energy, the environment, and public health and safety have coalesced to oppose Ambre, which is leading the push for West Coast export terminals. If Ambre’s Longview terminal goes through it will open the way for dozens more like it, continuing the mining and burning of dirty coal for decades. Several different organizations participated in today’s rally, including the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. Jim Cooksey, a representative of the union, had this to say about the protest:
We are concerned about the exporting of coal to overseas markets in that there are no environmental standards once the coal leaves our borders. The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers understands the issue of climate change and is looking to secure alliances with other labor and environmental organizations to find solutions that protect workers and the environment.
Today’s protest at Ambre’s headquarters comes on the heels of a 50-person rally yesterday in Longview, WA where residents who will be directly impacted by the export terminal gathered. They are demanding that the permit for the Longview terminal be revoked immediately. Controversy over the Longview terminal has been building. Just last week it was revealed that Ambre Energy planned to construct the Longview export terminal with the capacity to annually ship up to 60 million short tons of western U.S. coal, even as it told state and local government officials that it would build a facility one-twelfth that size. U.S. coal exports to China and India are expected to increase to 86.5 million tons, up from 79.5 million tons in 2010, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Peabody, the No. 1 coal producer in the U.S., has said it will release plans for its own West Coast port by the end of this quarter. If people are successful in stalling Ambre’s Longview terminal it would have a ripple effect across the sector, challenging the plan to develop coal export capacity along the coast. You can help too. Lend your voice to the fight against coal exports today: Tell politicians in Washington State to protect the health of their people and waterways and block the Longview coal port.
UPDATE: Slideshow from the rally
Video from the rally