Fossil Fuels

Mark Goebel / Flickr

Northwest Innovation Works has dropped plans to build one of the world’s largest methanol plants at the Port of Tacoma. 

'Small' Oil Spills Can Add Up To Big Costs

Mar 19, 2015
Rowan Moore Gerety / Northwest News Network

Tony Schick / EarthFix

This week’s fiery oil train derailment in West Virginia has lawmakers thinking about oil-by-rail safety through the Northwest. There has been a dramatic increase in oil trains traveling through the region to reach West coast refineries.

Katie Campbell / KCTS9

The Lummi Nation of Northwestern Washington sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers Monday.

It called on the Corps to halt the permitting process for the Gateway Pacific Terminal. The terminal would be located near Bellingham and would transport up to 48 million tons of coal to Asia by ship each year.

Katie Campbell

The city of Ashland passed a resolution Tuesday night supporting divestment from the fossil fuel industry. It joins Eugene as the only other Northwest city to take this kind of action to fight climate change.

The scope of the resolution is limited.

Oregon Approves Subsidy For Oil Transport, Not Coal

Aug 22, 2014
McD22 / Flickr

The Oregon Transportation Commission voted Friday to deny funding for controversial coal exports but approved subsidies that will allow more oil trains to travel along the Columbia River.

Oregon Denies Permit For Controversial Coal Export Dock

Aug 19, 2014
Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission

The state of Oregon Monday denied a controversial permit for a coal export dock on the Columbia River. For EarthFix, Cassandra Profita reports.

Report Raises Safety Concerns About Oil By Water

Aug 7, 2014
Kill van Kull / Flickr

Many communities across the Northwest are worried about the safety risks of shipping crude oil by rail. But a new report raises safety concerns about another shipping method: Oil by water. For EarthFix, Cassandra Profita reports.

Oregon Report Identifies Gaps In Oil Train Safety

Jul 28, 2014
Tony Schick / EarthFix

Several mile-long oil trains cross through the state of Oregon every week carrying volatile oil from North Dakota's Bakken oil fields. A new report released today Friday identifies gaps in Oregon's ability to handle the safety risks. For EarthFix, Cassandra Profita reports.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

It's been four years since a deadly explosion at an oil refinery shook the town of Anacortes, Washington. The question of who's responsible for seven workers' deaths still hasn't been answered fully. Refinery owner Tesoro agreed to pay millions to families of the dead, but the company is fighting accusations that it willfully put its workers in harm’s way. With multiple legal proceedings continuing to swirl around the accident, it remains unclear whether anyone will be held accountable for the human cost of Tesoro gasoline. John Ryan brings us part one of this KUOW investigation.

Heidi Neilsen / GoodWorks

More people in the Northwest support coal export terminals than oppose them. Those are the results of a new survey. But people who took the survey didn’t feel very strongly about why they support coal exports. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Michael Werner / EarthFix

Crude oil shipments by rail increased by more than 80 percent, nationally, last year.

Most of it is coming from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. That crude is more flammable than other types of oil, and has been shown to catch fire and explode when trains derail.

More than 15 trains of Bakken oil move through some parts of the Northwest each week, en route to refineries and terminals in Washington and Oregon.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway transports the majority of that oil.

The company regularly touts its commitment to safety.

But an EarthFix investigation reveals some troubling patterns in the way BNSF Railway deals with whistleblowers – particularly those who voice concerns about safety.

Ashley Ahearn reports for EarthFix. EarthFix’s Tony Schick contributed to the reporting for this story.

David T. Hanson / EarthFix

The Obama administration’s new rules to cut CO2 emissions sparked some interesting conversation in Seattle this week. At a conference held downtown, leaders in the energy sector gathered to talk about the future of coal in the West. Ashley Ahearn reports for EarthFix.

FlickrLickr / Wikimedia Commons

Northwesterners love their diesel pickups. A new report by a diesel industry group shows Oregon and Idaho are in the top ten when it comes to highest rates of diesel vehicle ownership in the nation. But the overall rate pales in comparison to other parts of the world. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

Central Oregon Grapples With Rising Oil Train Safety Risks

May 20, 2014
Friends of the Gorge

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden will meet with emergency officials in Central Oregon this week to talk about oil train safety. For EarthFix, Cassandra Profita reports.

The dinosaurs were killed during the Fifth Extinction — which scientists suspect was caused by an asteroid. Now, we are living through an epoch that many scientists describe as the Sixth Extinction, and this time, human activity is the culprit. As one scientist put it: We're the asteroid.

Elizabeth Kolbert is the author of the new book The Sixth Extinction. It begins with a history of the "big five" extinctions of the past, and goes on to explain how human behavior is creating a sixth one — including our use of fossil fuels and the effects of climate change.

A new survey finds support for coal export terminals has dropped over the past year among Northwest residents. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Climate Change Concerns Enter Into Coal Export Debate

Jun 18, 2013
Katie Campbell

There are now three coal export terminals under consideration in the Pacific Northwest.

The prospect of exporting coal from Wyoming and Montana to be sold on the Asian market has many raising questions about the local and regional environmental impacts of moving that coal through the Northwest.

Ashley Ahearn reports on how that issue is playing into the debate over coal exports in Washington and Oregon.

Katie Campbell

The Federal government is missing out on tens of millions of dollars in revenue from companies that mine coal on public lands. That’s according to a new report released by the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Ashley Ahearn reports for EarthFix.

Crowdfunding Coal Science

May 21, 2013
Katie Campbell

Crowdfunding and kickstarter campaigns have become popular online tools to raise money for fledgling businesses and independent projects. Scientists are starting to use these sites to fund research as well.

State and federal agencies have begun the environmental review process for the two largest coal export terminals on the West coast. Now there are some scientists who are asking the public to chip in for studies about the impacts of exporting coal. Ashley Ahearn reports for EarthFix.

Marcus Kaufmann

More than a dozen Northwest schools and hospitals have replaced old diesel heating systems with boilers that burn wood pellets. Advocates say that this wood fuel -- called forest biomass -- is an affordable local source of energy. And it can help rural communities cut back on their fossil fuel use.

Lamont Granquist

The debate over exporting Wyoming and Montana coal through terminals on the Northwest coast has been heating up in recent months. Those who support exporting coal say the terminals will create thousands of jobs and tax revenue for the state. Opponents of coal exports have raised concerns about the potential environmental and health impacts of coal. Some of them are taking matters into their own hands. Ashley Ahearn reports.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and Washington Governor Jay Inslee continue to push for a tougher federal review of proposed coal export terminals in the Northwest. Monday the governors sent a letter to the President’s top environmental advisors, asking them to consider the impact of coal exports on the climate. Amelia Templeton of Earthfix reports.

Washington State University

The “fiscal cliff” and sequestration are words you’ve heard a lot in recent months.  In light of the United States’ growing deficit and budget crisis, Dr. Kirsten Peters looks at how a purposeful national energy plan could save the US a lot of money.

To a geologist like me, it was most notable by its absence in the political campaigns that lurched to their conclusions in November. I’m talking about an energy plan with real teeth, one that addresses everything from national security to the cost of energy to greenhouse warming of the planet.

International Investors Back Out Of Coos Bay Coal Plans

Mar 11, 2013

A coal export terminal proposed for Oregon’s South Coast has hit a setback. Two of the project’s investors have dropped out. EarthFix reporter Amelia Templeton explains.

Voices Of Coal: Rail Town Mayor

Mar 8, 2013

This week we’re bringing you our special EarthFix series, "Voices of Coal."

Each day we'll hear from someone with a personal stake in the Northwest's debate over coal export terminals.

Voices Of Coal: Local Business Owners

Mar 7, 2013

This week we’re bringing you our special EarthFix series, "Voices of Coal."

Each day we'll hear from someone with a personal stake in the Northwest's debate over coal export terminals.

Today we hear from Richard and Tanya Burkholder, business owners who depend on tourism at the Oregon Dunes National Monument, not far from a proposed coal export terminal in Coos Bay.

Voices Of Coal: Tribal Fisherman

Mar 6, 2013

This week we’re bringing you our special EarthFix series, "Voices of Coal."

Each day we'll hear from someone with a personal stake in the Northwest's debate over coal export terminals.

Voices Of Coal: Columbia River Pilot

Mar 5, 2013

This week we’re bringing you our special EarthFix series, "Voices of Coal."

Each day we'll hear from someone with a personal stake in the Northwest's debate over coal export terminals.

Voices Of Coal: Coal Country Rancher

Mar 4, 2013

This week we’re bringing you our special EarthFix series, "Voices of Coal."

Each day we'll hear from someone with a personal stake in the Northwest's debate over coal export terminals.

Today we visit with a rancher who runs cows near the epicenter of open pit mining in America - the Powder River Basin near Gillette, Wyoming.

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