Monday, December 10, 2012

Seeing new West Coast coal terminals as a red-state, blue-state issue

On Wyofile, San Juan Islands' resident Charlie West offers a tongue-in-cheek modest proposal: You send us your coal, we'll send you our trash.

West notes that the wide open spaces of Wyoming and Montana have plenty of big holes for the trash of the 48 million residents of Washington, Oregon and California. It's only a fair trade, right? You send us your dirty coal and we send you our dirty trash.

A batch of inland Republicans, including our very own Cynthia Lummis, is trying to browbeat Washington's coastal residents in permitting a new coal shipping facility. West reports a lively conversation at the local tavern which goes something like this:
“We’re selling taxpayer-owned coal for next to nothing, so it can be sent somewhere else, to run someone else’s factories, and employ someone else’s people while we don’t have enough jobs in this country?”

“It makes no sense, pollute the air with trains and ships to get the coal there, then they burn it and their pollution drifts back here!”
We all pay for dirty coal. Global warming is real, no matter what the Know Nothings say in my Deep Red State of Wyoming. And while Wyoming rakes in taxes from its oil and gas and coal, including almost a billion federal dollars from energy resources extracted on public land (see previous post), coastal residents pay the price with rising sea levels and whopper storms.

Forward-thinking blue states such as WA, OR and CA invest heavily in alternative energy while WY continues burning and shipping coal. The coal is shipped to China and India where it is burned, creating more CO2 in the atmosphere -- this speeds global warming. The ice sheets melt, forcing a rise in ocean levels which swamps blue-state cities, drowning Liberal, latte-drinking, mountain-bike-riding voters by the millions. Wyoming builds a big wall at its borders to keep out the riff raff. We keep mining and burning and shipping coal, secure in the knowledge that sea levels have to get pretty darn high before bitchin' waves begin to break on the beaches of Cheyenne. Besides, the wall will keep the water out. We'll call them dikes. And we can open our own ports to ship our own coal to China and India, those parts that aren't at the bottom of Davy Jones Locker.

The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades. I better wear shades, what with the dissolving ozone layer and blinding sun and all.

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