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NYT Sobs: The US Exports Coal To China

From an outraged New York Times:

Importing Coal, China Burns It as Others Stop

Nations That Debate Coal Use Export It to Feed China’s Need

By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
November 21, 2010

Even as developed countries close or limit the construction of coal-fired power plants out of concern over pollution and climate-warming emissions, coal has found a rapidly expanding market elsewhere: Asia, particularly China.

At ports in Canada, Australia, Indonesia, Colombia and South Africa, ships are lining up to load coal for furnaces in China, which has evolved virtually overnight from a coal exporter to one of the world’s leading purchasers.

The United States now ships coal to China via Canada, but coal companies are scouting for new loading ports in Washington State. New mines are being planned for the Rockies and the Pacific Northwest. Indeed, some of the world’s more environmentally progressive regions are nascent epicenters of the new coal export trade, creating political tensions between business and environmental goals.

Traditionally, coal is burned near where it is mined — particularly so-called thermal or steaming coal, used for heat and electricity. But in the last few years, long-distance international coal exports have been surging because of China’s galloping economy, which now burns half of the six billion tons of coal used globally each year.

And yet aren’t we told how much more ‘green’ China is than the US? How we need to catch up with their environmental ways?

But, as we will learn much later in the piece, China has plenty of its own coal. It is importing much cleaner burning coal. But The Times doesn’t want the casual reader to learn that.

As a result, not only are the pollutants that developed countries have tried to reduce finding their way into the atmosphere anyway, but ships chugging halfway around the globe are spewing still more.

Oh, the irony. The horror.

And the rush to feed this new Asian market has helped double the price of coal over the past five years, leading to a renaissance of mining and exploration in many parts of the world.

Gee, it couldn’t be environmental regulations that are driving up the price of coal? After all, we are supposed to have been in a worldwide recession for much of the last five years.

“This is a worst-case scenario,” said David Graham-Caso, spokesman for the Sierra Club, which estimates that its “Beyond Coal” campaign has helped to block 139 proposed coal plants in the United States over the last few years. “We don’t want this coal burned here, but we don’t want it burned at all. This is undermining everything we’ve accomplished.”

In Australia, environmental groups have repeatedly halted trainloads of coal headed to the export docks at Newcastle this fall, and flotillas of kayaking protesters have delayed cargo pickups by Asia-bound coal ships

Mr. Graham-Caso and his ilk are nothing short of domestic terrorists. Wreckers. Saboteurs. In a better world they would be behind bars or shot on sight.

This summer an Australian company signed a $60 billion contract with a state enterprise, China Power International Development, to supply coal to Chinese power stations beginning in 2013 from a vast complex of mines, called China First, to be built in the Australian outback. It was Australia’s largest export contract ever, the company said.

The deal points to the love-hate relationship many wealthier countries have with coal: while environmental laws have made it progressively harder to build new coal-fired power plants, they do not restrict coal mining to the same extent.

That is partly because emissions accounting standards focus on where a fuel is burned, not where it is dug up; because the coal trade is a lucrative business; and because the labor-intensive mining industry creates jobs.

Such benefits are particularly hard to forgo in the midst of a recession

So now we finally are getting to the point of this New York Times article. They do not want to condemn Communist China, of course. They want to put an end to coal mining in the US and (if they have to) other Western countries.

After all, as Mr. Obama himself said, ‘there is more than one way to skin the cat’ – that is, destroy capitalism.

Vic Svec, senior vice president of Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private coal company, said it was “planning to send larger and larger amounts of coal” to China.

“Coal is the fastest-growing fuel in the world and will continue to be largely driven by the enormous appetite for energy in Asia,” he said.

Is there no end to such evilness? (But, you would think this would be great news for the US, since it is the Saudi Arabia of clean burning coal.)

The conflict between environmental and trade concerns is gaining momentum in the United States and Canada as well as Australia.

Last year, the United States exported only 2,714 tons of coal to China, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. Yet that figure soared to 2.9 million tons in the first six months of this year alone — huge growth, though still a minuscule fraction of China’s coal imports.

New mines are planned to expand the market further…

But don’t worry, the New York Times is fully committed to stopping this.

Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm, is suing to block the lease of state-owned land in Otter Creek, Mont., to Arch Coal for mining to serve demand in Asia and elsewhere…

In Washington State, the city of Tacoma decided Friday that it would not host a proposed coal loading plant, citing “a multitude of business and community factors.” This week officials in Cowlitz County are expected to decide whether to grant a permit for a proposed coal port in Longview, on the border with Oregon.

Environmental groups will be there to oppose the port, noting that policies in both states effectively block new coal-fired plants and that both have plans to close the few that remain. “It’s one step forward, 10 steps back if we allow coal export in our region,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of the environmental group Columbia Riverkeeper

What heroes!

The growth and shifts in coal exports to China are impressive, flowering even during the recession. Seaborne trade in thermal coal rose to about 690 million tons this year, up from 385 million in 2001.

The price rose to $60 from $40 a ton five years ago to a high of $200 in 2008. Coal delivered to southern China currently sells for $114 per ton.

China, which was a perennial coal exporter until 2009, the first year that it imported more than it sent out, is expected to import up to 150 million tons this year.

The lucrative export trade with China is expected to continue, said Ian Cronshaw, head of the energy diversification division at the International Energy Agency.

Although it has plentiful domestic supplies, China imports coal because much of its own is low grade and contains impurities. Coal from the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming tends to be low in sulfur, for example, allowing power plants to burn more without exceeding local pollution limits

You see. China is only buying coal from the West to try to help the environment. But the environmentalists won’t allow this. They have no problem with China burning its own ‘dirty’ coal, of course.

They want to destroy Western capitalism, not save the planet.

Additionally, much of China’s coal is inland while the factories are on the coast; it is often easier to ship coal from North America, Australia or even South America…

Even though we are constantly told about their superior infrastructure. 

Another emerging customer is India, whose coal imports rose from 36 million tons in 2008 to 60 million tons in 2009, the last full year for which data is available.

In Europe and the United States, coal seems past its prime, with consumption generally down from five years ago because of the recession, environmental laws and a greater reliance on natural gas and renewable energy.

For some economies, China has been a lifesaver. Although Colombia’s coal exports collapsed in 2008 when demand in America and Europe plummeted, they revived this year, with 10 million tons going to Asia

Again, this cannot be allowed to happen. The coal industry in the US must be destroyed once and for all.

And we know we can count on the New York Times to do its part.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Monday, November 22nd, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “NYT Sobs: The US Exports Coal To China”

  1. Rusty Shackleford

    “Additionally, much of China’s coal is inland while the factories are on the coast; it is often easier to ship coal from North America, Australia or even South America…”

    Yup, owing to the fact that the Chinese built much of the US railroad system in the US West. And that there are capitalists all over the world making some money carrying a needed product to market. Interesting. So, what’s stopping China from building the railroads it needs to get coal from its interior to the coastal factories? Perhaps it’s that evil George Bush. Yes, that’s it. If it wasn’t for Bush, the Chinese would’ve had their own railroads by now. Hell, if it wasn’t for the 1860’s in the US, we never would’ve had to build railroads of our own and with “stolen” Chinese labor. We would’ve been able to leave them there to build their own railroads. But then, back in the 1860’s the Chinese had no use for coal. The Qing/Manchu dynasty had problems of its own, coal being the least of them, if at all.

    (the preceding is loaded with sarcasm…)

  2. NoNeoCommies

    OMG!
    The coal companies are still alive?
    They might make a profit?
    We have to put a stop to this!
    Al Gore and Billy tried to kill them and Obama tried too.
    How can they still be viable?




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