Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cherry Point Will Become the Largest Coal Exporting Facility in North America

One of two coal trains passing thru Fairhaven late Saturday afternoon.

"Our export agreement with the Gateway Pacific Terminal gives us rights to ship 24 million metric tons of coal annually. These volumes are a part of total terminal capacity that will be permitted to move up to 54 million metric tons of all bulk commodities at capacity, including up to 48 million metric tons of coal, depending on market demand and other factors. "

Peabody Coal Company Spokesperson Beth Sutton in her response to one in a series of articles by Eric De Place in The Weekly Score from Sightline Daily.  Read it here!

Here is a link to an article in Commodities Now on the explosive demand for more coal in China if the economies of scale can be improved by building a facility on the west coast. In other words by building this facility at Cherry Point it will create and open up a huge market for coal from Wyoming and Montana.  The economics aren't there if the coal is shipped out of Houston/Galveston.

So when the spokesperson for Peabody Coal company says "depending on market demand and other factors", she is being a bit misleading implying that this is all market driven and somehow important in the reasoning behind the approval for building/permitting this facility. China will simply buy the coal from Indonesia or Australia if this facility isn't built. Their version of free market forces don't calculate in the cost to the degradation of air quality, water quality, home devaluations, health costs, noise, etc., etc., etc.

According to Eric DePlace,  the quality of this coal in btu's produced, is inferior, thus cheaper per metric ton - if you add the cost of shipping through the Panama Canal it will simply make it too expensive and the market will not be there for Wyoming and Montana coal.

So! The economy of scale requires a huge facility on the west coast.The marketing campaign focuses on 24 million tons passing through our town, but by opening this facility to ship coal to China an almost insatiable demand for western coal will be created requiring at the minimum twice the amount passing through the Chuckanuts and Bellingham and more than twice the number of ships coming into the facility than is being advertised in the Bellingham Herald.

Plus we will have to give them tax subsidies and pay for the vast majority of upgrade requirements required by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

And let's be realistic about shipping wheat from this facility - it won't happen it's a deflection by the marketing people.  The vast majority of wheat from eastern Washington is barged down the Snake and Columbia River to loading facilities near Portland and further downstream.

The odds that anything but a token amount will ever be shipped out of a facility in Whatcom County are next to nil.

Largest coal shipping facility in North America - are we really that proud of the direction this spectacular county is heading?

all photos copyright Paul K Anderson 2011 please click on any image to enlarge

Will the tourist industry use images like this to attract visitors to Whatcom County?

Burlington Northern Santa Fe locomotives haul up to 150
coal cars through Bellingham

BNSF coal train passes through Fairhaven and
below South Hill

Chuckanut Range viewed between coal cars

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