U.S. coal exports undermine energy efforts, experts say
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — As the Obama administration weans the United States off dirty fuels blamed for global warming, energy companies send more of America's unwanted energy leftovers to other parts of the world where they could cause more pollution.
This fossil fuel trade threatens to undermine President Obama's strategy for reducing the gases blamed for climate change, and it reveals a seldom-discussed side effect of countries acting alone on a global problem. The contribution of this exported pollution to global warming is not something the administration wants to measure or talk about.
“This is the single biggest flaw in U.S. climate policy,” said Roger Martella, the former general counsel at the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush. “Although the administration is moving forward with climate change regulations at home, we don't consider how policy decisions in the United States impact greenhouse gas emissions in other parts of the world.”
During the past six years, American energy companies have sent more coal than ever to other parts of the world, in some cases to places with lax environmental standards.
The consequence: This global shell game makes the United States appear to be making more progress than it is on global warming. That's because it shifts some pollution — and the burden for cleaning it up — onto other countries' balance sheets.
“Energy exports, bit by bit, are chipping away at gains we are making on carbon dioxide domestically,” said Shakeb Afsah, an economist who runs an energy consulting firm in Bethesda, Md.
As companies look to double America's coal exports, with three new terminals along the West Coast, the United States could be fueling demand for coal.
The administration has resisted calls from governors in Washington and Oregon to evaluate and disclose such global fallout, saying that if the United States didn't supply the coal, another country would.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Obama reaches out to Jewish community
- Cuban talks to continue
- Senate still works on NSA proposal as deadline nears
- Senate OKs fast-track trade bill sought by Obama
- 28 evacuated as fire hits oil platform off Louisiana coast
- Giant hole forms near golf course
- Suspect in killings of wealthy DC family arrested
- Senators push for full funding for Amtrak
- As oil production soars, so do pipeline leaks
- Police officials rethink approach to training
- D.C. mansion murder suspect had help, police say