Is It Morally Wrong For U.S. To Export Coal?

We didn’t ask. NPR did.

“The Seattle area is seeing widespread, well-organized opposition to an export industry: coal. Thousands of people have turned out to express their disgust with a plan to build export terminals on Puget Sound to ship American coal to Asia. Opponents cite noise, traffic delays, coal dust and global warming.” [NPR]

11 thoughts on “Is It Morally Wrong For U.S. To Export Coal?”

  1. It is morally wrong for the United States to make false claims regarding the safety of coal in order to promulgate an anti-coal regulatory scheme. Modern coal plants are clean and provide reliable base-load electricity. The current price of natural gas favors gas powered electricity generators, but coal is still extemely important. Our national interest is best served by a stable supply of affordable electricity, which is best provided by a mix of economically sustainable plants: natural gas, coal, nuclear, and hydro. The coal industry has spent billions of dollars to install scrubbers, baghouses, SCRs, and other control equipment to reduce emissions. For the EPA to attack them in this manner is morally wrong.

  2. I read the article and it seems the coal is coming from the Powder River Basin, which is low sulphur, low mercury coal. So….no acid rain (sulphuric acid not an issue), and no mercury. PRB coal is as clean as it gets.

  3. Since I don’t expect Gene to actually do any research, I checked. The “subsidy” is a typical liberal accounting ideal. The mine leases the land from the BLM for $1.10 per ton and sells it for $10.00. Those ruthless, greedy companies won’t dig the stuff out of the ground for free. Thus, the companies are shorting the government $8.10. Next, the taxation method did not take into account foreign coal sales (mostly because there were so few) and there is some question of what is to be taxed–price here, price paid by middle man or price paid by the Chinese (who in one report were said to be willing to pay 10 times the amount paid by US buyers–I could not confirm this.) That would be the fault of those setting tax rates and don’t tell me anyone pays willing pays more than the going tax rate–Warren Buffett proved that beyond any doubt. So the company is doing what companies do. There were some complaints about CEO wages–generally known as “class envy” arguments. People are worth what a company is willing to pay. If a company forks out huge salaries, then you can either deal with it or stop buying from the company. (IE Live off the grid.) Lastly, there were gross exaggerations of coal’s costs. Grist says $35 a ton. The EIA says $10. I’m sure Grist just made an honest error–along with the 25 cents a ton lease price no one else agreed with. This is about commerce, pure and simple. We have coal. China wants it. So unless you are willing to call your using tax deductions a subsidy to your income and admit you should not be making a profit from your business, nor should your employer (who will promptly lay you off), there is not grand subsidy scheme in any of this. Just a bunch of environmentalists who want to cost everyone their jobs, houses, lights and basically anything else they can take.

  4. Perhaps you would care to research that comment, Gene. Provide some real numbers? And why would Washington, a state that sucked up all the wind subsidies, have a moral objection to subsidies? Unless it’s an all-out fight for federal money? Your idea needs some facts, please.
    It’s going to China because they want it and will buy it. You think it goes to the coast, on a boat, gets dumped in the ocean and no one pays for it? Think.

  5. The condemnation may have valid economical reasons besides the usual “coal is dirty” thing we hear from those quarters. At slightly above $10 per ton and fairly low energy content of the Wyoming coal, do you think it can possibly be economical to ship it anywhere, and to China, of all places? This project smells of large subsidies.

  6. My vote is we do not allow anyone protesting coal shipments to use electricity that may have been generated by coal. That means they go off-grid, or no permit to protest. If they are going to condemn coal shipments, they should not in any way be even accidentally using coal here. And no more shopping at the “we-buy-all-our-cheap-crap-from-China” stores because that increases China’s need for coal. It’s fine to have the courage of your convictions, as long as you do it all the way. Otherwise, no permit, no protests. We don’t care.

  7. The nebulous effect of CO2 and manageable enviroenmental impacts of coal pales to the benefits of plentiful afordable energy. So, it is also immoral to conflate the baby with the bath water in the first place only to argue for throwing them both out.

  8. Providing low cost fuel to upgrade the living conditions of people in Asia is immoral. Nope, opposing it is immoral.

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