Asia would put the coal exported through Northwest terminals to use manufacturing goods, some of which used to be made in America and many of which would be consumed in America. The other major import that would result? Pollution.
The poorly regulated Asian coal plants are major sources of global warming pollution and toxic air contaminants. Burning the 100 million metric tons of coal annually that may be shipped through Washington and Oregon ports would produce approximately millions of tons of the pollution that causes global warming.
Coal is the dirtiest, most carbon-intensive fossil fuel. Coal export – which is directly linked to development of coal-based energy infrastructure in Asia – would make it virtually impossible to stabilize climate pollution at safe levels. If the fast-growing Asian economies continue to invest in long-lived, capital-intensive coal power infrastructure at their current rate, we will be irrevocably locked in to global emission trajectories that guarantee catastrophic climate.