Governor Matt Mead says there’s no question that Taiwan and South Korea want Wyoming coal. Mead just returned from a trip to those countries where he met with government leaders, trona industry representatives, and attended events promoting tourism in Wyoming. He says exporting Wyoming coal is still a good idea.
While coal producers look to international markets to make up for a soft coal market at home, experts advise that Asian coal demand will not be as strong as had been expected.
During a recent teleconference, researchers and environmentalists discussed the financial viability of building coal export terminals in the Northwest US to ship Powder River basin coal to Asia. Ross Macfarlane works for Climate Solutions, a clean-energy advocacy group. He said domestic producers didn’t account for the evolution of the coal market abroad.
With the start of the legislative session Tuesday, lawmakers have begun to lay out ideas for state income opportunities and budget priorities. With a slow-down in energy revenue predicted for the next decade, House Speaker, Thomas Lubnau, says Wyoming should look for new opportunities abroad.
“15% of Australia’s gross domestic product, about 1 in every 5 dollars of the Australian economy, is shipping coal to Asia. And there’s a huge opportunity for Wyoming to hop into that market if we can figure out a way to get ports either on the Gulf Coast or in Washington or Oregon.”
A Western Organization of Resource Councils report says an increase of Powder River Basin coal exports from Pacific ports to Asia could bring unconsidered problems. The environmental group’s report alleges that increased coal traffic would congest rail lines, bring coal dust, and force communities to front billions of dollars for infrastructure improvements.