Gov Mead wants White House to scrap climate consideration for coal exports

By Dustin Bleizeffer
— April 26, 2013

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead came out swinging at Pacific Northwest governors this week for asking that an environmental review of the Gateway Pacific Terminal include considerations for potential CO2 emissions related to the project and the contributions to global warming. The primary purpose for the Gateway Pacific Terminal is to export Powder River Basin coal to Asian markets. It is one of several proposed new coal terminals in the northwest.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile — click to enlarge)
Wyoming Governor Matt Mead. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile — click to enlarge)

Gov. Mead said in a press release Friday afternoon, “I do not support the novel use of NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) as a political opinion piece on global warming.”

Mead was referring to arguments made by Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in a March 2013 letter to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). In his own letter to the CEQ this week, Gov. Mead asks the council to scrap draft guidance regarding consideration of climate change in the NEPA analysis of the project.

“I note that Governor Kitzhaber’s and Governor Inslee’s letter does not mention northwest commodities – like lumber – for climate change analysis under NEPA; rather, their letter targets one commodity – coal – and the producers, transporters, and workers who deal with it. This undermines the fundamental fairness of the process and potentially sets U.S. regions, states and resources at odds with each other,” Gov. Mead writes.

“I am respectful of the opinions of these fellow Governors, but I disagree with them on the potential misuse of the National Environmental Policy Act with respect to coal leasing and exports,” Gov. Mead said in a press statement. “Coal will provide electricity across the globe in the coming years and I believe these export facilities will power economic growth here in America. I support a thorough site-specific environmental and economic analysis of these projects. I support addressing all of the concerns and questions raised by the citizens of Oregon and Washington. However, I do not support the novel use of NEPA as a political opinion piece on global climate change.”

Gov. Mead also expressed disapproval of Gov. Kitzhaber’s and Gov. Inslee’s call for a review of pricing for federal coal leases. Mead insists that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in 2011 demonstrated that its practice ensures fair market values are received for leases. In his letter to the CEQ, Mead writes, “With all due respect, the CEQ should neither be determining policies for pricing federal coal leases nor establishing new policies for the issuing of coal leases based on a global climate change analysis.”

Mead said in a press statement, “Coal is the fastest growing fuel source in the world and 40 percent of the electricity in this country comes from coal. I welcome an environmental analysis that is legally consistent, based in science and also provides a fair opportunity for American coal to compete with coal around the globe.”

— Dustin Bleizeffer is WyoFile editor-in-chief. Contact him at 307-577-6069 or Follow Dustin on Twitter @DBleizeffer

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Dustin Bleizeffer is a Report for America Corps member covering energy and climate at WyoFile. He has worked as a coal miner, an oilfield mechanic, and for 25 years as a statewide reporter and editor primarily...

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