A man is known by the company he keeps…… and the biggest LOSER

Days after the White House announced that it would not release visitor logs, the president hosted an unannounced dinner party that included Bat shit crazy Sarah Palin, the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential nominee and a former Alaska governor, and Low life nut job rocker Ted Nuget and delusional Kid Rock who also supported him during the 2016 campaign.

Lookout out Ivanka 

Palin posted photos from the Oval Office on Thursday morning, including one in which she is chatting up the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

“A great night at the White House. Thank you to President Trump for the invite!” she tweeted.

But it was the photo of Trump’s dinner guests trolling the Clinton photo that caught the most attention.

The bigoted anti semite Ted Nugent posted rambling thoughts on his Facebook page late Wednesday…………..

“So today is the 242nd anniversary of The Shot Heard Round The World is it! Well well well looky looky here boogie chillin’, I got your Shot Heard Round The World right here in big ol greazyass Washington DC where your 1 & only MotorCity Madman WhackMaster StrapAssasin1 dined with President Donald J Trump at the WhiteHouse to Make America Great Again! Got that? Glowing all American over the top WE THE PEOPLE gory details coming ASAP!! BRACE!”

The White House did not provide its own readout of the encounter.

 

The Loser………

Trump loves winning and winners, and all presidents love hanging out with sports champions. On Wednesday, Trump honored the New England Patriots for their overtime Super Bowl victory.

But many players skipped the ceremony in protest, and attendance was down noticeably from years past.

oops

NEW POLL –United Airlines favored over Trump: A new poll measured the favorability of United Airlines compared to President Trump.

Forty-two percent say they prefer the airline company to Trump. Forty percent favor Trump over United instead, while 18 percent remain undecided between the two.

http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/aviation/329687-poll-voters-prefer-united-airlines-to-trump

 

Whose is bigger Putin’s or Trump’s

BIG ASS BOMBS

More war porn from our ruler in chief “Bloatus prevaricator”

Washington (CNN) The US military has dropped an enormous bomb in Afghanistan, according to four US military officials with direct knowledge of the mission.

A GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB), nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” was dropped at 7:32 pm local time Thursday, the sources said. A MOAB is a 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition that is America’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb.

The bomb was dropped by an MC-130 aircraft, stationed in Afghanistan and operated by Air Force Special Operations Command, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump told CNN.

Officials said the target was an ISIS cave and tunnel complex and personnel in the Achin district of the Nangarhar province.

“The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously and in order to defeat the group we must deny them operational space, which we did,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said later Thursday. The strike “targeted a system of tunnels and cave that ISIS fighters use to move around freely.”

The military is currently assessing the damage. Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, signed off on the use of the bomb, according to the sources. The authority to deploy the weapon was granted to Nicholson by the commander of US Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, Stump said.

This is the first time a MOAB has been used in the battlefield, according to the US officials. This munition was developed during the Iraq War.

“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” Nicholson said in a statement following the strike.

“This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K,” Nicholson added.

“US forces took every precaution to avoid civilian casualties with this strike. US Forces will continue offensive operations until ISIS-K is destroyed in Afghanistan,” read the statement from US Forces Afghanistan.

The extent of the damage and whether anyone was killed is not yet clear. The military is currently conducting an assessment.

The Pentagon is currently reviewing whether to deploy additional trainers to Afghanistan to help bolster US allies there.

The Achin district is the primary center of ISIS activity in Afghanistan. A US Army Special Forces soldier was killed fighting the terror group there Saturday.

 

Meanwhile Putin brags about the “The Father of All Bombs” (FOAB)

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father_of_All_Bombs

Type      Thermobaric bomb

Place of origin    Russia

Service history Used by   Russian Air Force

Designer              Russian military

Produced             2007

Specifications Weight      7,100 kg (15,650 lb)

Filling     High explosive and fine aluminium powder and ethylene oxide mix.

Blast yield            44 tons TNT / 80,000 Ibs

Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power (ATBIP) Russian: Авиационная вакуумная бомба повышенной мощности (АВБПМ), nicknamed “Father of All Bombs” (FOAB) Russian: “Отец всех бомб” (“Овб”), is a Russian-designed, bomber-delivered thermobaric weapon.

The bomb is reportedly four times as powerful as the US military’s GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (whose official military acronym “MOAB” is often unofficially rendered as “Mother of All Bombs”). This Russian device would therefore be the most powerful conventional (non-nuclear) weapon in the world.The veracity of Russia’s claims concerning the weapon’s size and power have been questioned by US defense analysts.

“FOAB” was successfully field-tested in the late evening of September 11, 2007. The new weapon is to replace several smaller types of nuclear bombs in its arsenal.

Fireball blast from the Russian “Father of All Bombs”, with the beginnings of a mushroom cloud

The thermobaric device yields the equivalent of 44 tons of TNT using about seven tons of a new type of high explosive. Because of this, the bomb’s blast and pressure wave have a similar effect to a small tactical nuclear weapon, although on a smaller scale.[5][clarification needed] The bomb works by detonating in mid-air. Most damage is inflicted by a supersonic shockwave and extremely high temperatures.[4][6] Thermobaric weapons differ from conventional explosive weapons in that they generate a longer, more sustained blast wave with greater temperatures. In doing so, they produce more damage over a larger area than a conventional weapon of similar mass.

Compared with MOAB    Edit

According to General Alexander Rushkin, the Russian deputy chief of staff, the new bomb is smaller than the MOAB but much deadlier because the temperature at the centre of the blast is twice as high. He says the bomb’s capabilities are comparable to nuclear weapons, but unlike nuclear weaponry known for its radioactive fallout, use of the weapon does not damage or pollute the environment beyond the blast radius.

In comparison, the MOAB produces the equivalent of 11 tons of TNT from 8 tons of high explosive. The blast radius of the FOAB is 300 meters, almost double that of the MOAB, and the temperature produced is twice as high.

 

Indicator              MОАВ[9]                                FОАВ[10]

Mass:                 8.2 tonnes                                   7.1 tonnes

TNT equivalent: 11 tons (22,000 lb)           ≈44 tons (≈88,000 lb)

Blast radius:        150 meters (492 ft)          300 meters (984 ft)

Guidance:            INS/GPS               Unknown (presumably GLONASS)

 

Some defense analysts question both the yield of the bomb and whether it could be deployed by a Tupolev Tu-160 bomber. A report by Wired says photos and the video of the event suggest that it is designed to be deployed from the rear of a slow moving cargo plane, and they note that the bomb-test video released by the Russians never shows both the bomb and the bomber in the same camera shot. There are also questions on what type of explosives it used. They quoted Tom Burky, a senior research scientist at Battelle, saying “It’s not even clear what kind of weapon the Russians tested.” He questions if it was what some experts call a fuel-air explosive or if it was a thermobaric weapon. “Fuel-air and thermobaric bombs differ in usefulness”. Burky says that the weapon depicted in the video appears to be a fuel-air explosive, based on its shape.

German military analyst Sascha Lange speaking at Deutsche Welle pointed out multiple discrepancies of the released video and expressed his skepticism.

John Pike, an analyst at the think tank GlobalSecurity, says he believes the weapon is roughly as powerful as the Russians claim. What he does not necessarily believe is that the weapon is new. He says the Russians have possessed a range of thermobaric weapons for at least four decades. Pike says “These are fuel-air explosives, designed to generate intense blast pressure over a large area. It is reported that the Russian bomb is a so-called thermobaric bomb that produces both blast and heat. The Russian military has been a pioneer in the development and use of these thermobaric weapons. This would have to be one of the largest deliverable, droppable bombs in military history.”

Robert Hewson, an editor for Jane’s Information Group, told the BBC it was likely that FOAB indeed represented the world’s biggest non-nuclear bomb. “You can argue about the numbers and how you scale this but the Russians have a long and proven history of developing weapons in the thermobaric class”, he says. UPI claimed the device “would enormously boost Russia’s conventional military capabilities”.

Breaking: Trinity County rejects East-West Railroad

The Trinity County Transportation Commission held a Special Meeting at the Library in Weaverville today. The hearing was before a packed meeting room and lasted for about three hours.

There was lots of public comment with no one from Trinity County speaking up for the grant or the project. Some rail promoters from Eureka including David Hull spoke in favor.

In the end a motion was made by commissioner Burton and failed to get a second. So the Grant is rejected and the project appears to have been dealt a fatal blow.

Important chance to stop the East-West Railroad in Weaverville March 9, 10am

 

The Trinity County Transportation Commission will hold a Special Meeting at the Library in Weaverville March 9, 2017 at 10:00am 

We here at the Examiner have a long history of calling out this Arkley inspired Railroad boondoggle so we’ve included some links to previous post we’ve put up on the subject followed by an excellent and timely action alert from our friends ad epic:

THE MAGNITUDE OF THE RAILCONNECT PROJECTcrazy train

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2016/09/05/the-magnitude-of-the-railconnect-project/

WE AREN’T WRITING A REPORT TO JUSTIFY A RAILROAD, BUT…

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2016/08/23/we-arent-writing-a-report-to-justify-a-railroad-but/

CHIEF EAST-WEST RAILROAD “BS CALLER”, PATRICK MEAGHER STRIKES AGAIN

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/chief-east-west-railroad-bs-caller-patrick-meagher-strikes-again/

COAL AND OIL SHIPMENTS ARE RUNNING OUT OF WEST COAST PORT OPTIONS

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2016/12/14/coal-and-oil-shipments-are-running-out-of-west-coast-port-options/

EUREKA WILL NEVER BE A DEEPWATER PORT

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/eureka-will-never-be-a-deepwater-port/

Alert from EPIC:

The Trinity County Board of Supervisors are considering investing in a feasibility study for a railroad that could be routed through wilderness areas and cross several of the region’s rivers including the Trinity, Mad and Van Duzen Rivers. Help us stop this destructive project dead in its tracks by sending a letter to Trinity County Board of Supervisors.

Click here to tell the Trinity Board of Supervisors to reject wasting taxpayer money on a fruitless railroad study.  The Trinity Board of Supervisors, sitting in special session as the Trinity County Transportation Commission, is set torail-fail decide on whether to spend $355,000—$276,000 of which coming from you, the taxpayer—on a feasibility study for a proposed railroad connecting Eureka to the west with Gerber, CA to the east. This proposed rail line would be an ecological and fiscal disaster. Let’s stop this bad idea in its tracks. So far, the Trinity Board of Supervisors has only heard from rail fans, a loud but small group. Now it’s time for them to hear from the rest of us! Tell the Trinity Board of Supervisors to reject wasting taxpayer money on a fruitless railroad study.

An east-west railroad has already been extensively studied, starting way back in the 1909 Lentell study and ending with the 2013 study produced for the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District. Rail fans insist that these previous studies are inadequate or biased and therefore we need to look at the problem again. Evidently, rail proponents will not be content until a study concludes what they want to hear.

Based on the previous railroad studies, here are four quick reasons why funding this study is a bad idea:

(1) The railroad would be an ecological disaster

Trains are often billed as a “green” form of transportation, but developing this rail line would be an ecological disaster. All feasible routes would need to run across or near important rivers, such as the Trinity, Mad, Van Duzen and others—many of which are designated as “Wild and Scenic”—and are expected to produce significant sediment and other pollution. All feasible routes would impact existing wilderness areas or would run through potential future wilderness areas.

A rail line would only be economically feasible with a massively developed Humboldt Bay. As one of the most important stops in the Pacific Flyway and a critical aquatic ecosystem home to engendered fish, such as coho salmon and eulachon, Humboldt Bay is a unique ecological treasure. The development necessary to make Humboldt Bay a major West Coast port is extreme and would spoil the bay’s natural beauty and ecological integrity.

Coal is one commodity that may be shipped to Humboldt Bay for export to China. (Indeed, coal trains are one of the presumptive types of trains used in a previous feasibility study.) Coal trains are known polluters—leaving long plumes of coast dust in their wake—they have been sued for violating the Clean Water Act violation, and are the issue of carbon emissions from the export of coal.

(2) The railroad would serve a non-existent market

In short, even if a rail line existed, a port at Humboldt Bay would not make much sense. First, the bay itself is not conducive to the large transport ships in vogue. Rail proponents highlight that Humboldt Bay is one of the few deepwater harbors along the West Coast. However, this ignores the substantial work that would need to be done to get the harbor in condition to handle large boats. The bay would need to be dredged to a deep depth and the construction of large docks and other infrastructure would be necessary. Similarly, the narrowness of the Samoa Peninsula would limit the amount of rail traffic, reducing its feasibility.

Second, other competitive disadvantages—the amount of traffic necessary to generate sufficient net revenue to pay for the line (among the largest amount of volume on the West Coast), the lack of advantage in rail distance in comparison to other ports, the connection only to the Union Pacific line and not the BNSF line—outweigh whatever advantages Humboldt Bay offers. As the most recent feasibility study concludes, “development of rail service to Humboldt County is likely to be both high cost and high risk.”

(3) The railroad would cost a fortune to build and to maintain

No matter the alignment, the rail line would cost over a billion dollars, with a cost per mile generally over five million dollars. Maintenance costs would also be huge. Given the challenging geology, the most recent feasibility study anticipates annual costs of $90,000 per mile and a cumulative sum of $18-20 million. These same high operating costs were the deathblow to the rail line that once ran along the Eel River. Why would this be any different today?

All of this is at a time when Caltrans struggles to maintain our existing roadways. Access to the coast is constantly at risk, from Last Chance Grade, which is slipping into the sea, to Highway 299, which seems to be constantly under siege from the nearby mountain. Let’s work on fixing our existing infrastructure before spending a huge amount on a risky railroad.

(4) Our geography would reduce train speeds to a crawl

It is no secret: the North Coast is a wild tangle of mountains and rivers. This unique geography makes getting to the coast difficult—as evidenced by the routine closures of our major highways and the failure of previous rail lines. (This geography also makes this place a lovely and interesting place to live, but that’s for another day.) A fundamental issue facing an east/west rail line is our geology. The steep slopes would require many miles of twisting tracks to switchback up hills. Previous feasibility studies limited the average speed that could safely be achieved at 25 mph, a snail’s pace. In fact, the pace is so slow, and the distance so long, that halfway to its final destination, there would need to be a pit stop for crews to shift. And forget about passenger rail—can you imagine how torturous that ride would be?

The past feasibility studies proved that a railway of that size and distance is audacious and unnecessary.

CLICK HERE TO TELL THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS TO SAY NO TO WASTING TAXPAYER MONEY!

 

 

Humboldt’s East West Rail booster Monte Provolt v. Trinity’s Rail skeptic Patrick Meagher

lego trains

 Rail study worthwhile

Monte Provolt Blue Lake, Calif.

Witnessing the demise of the timber industry, and watching most non-governmental jobs disappear, some of us began looking for solutions to the failing Northern California economy.

Governmental agencies began studying different ways to utilize Humboldt Bay’s deep water port. They studied short sea shipping, they studied the now defunct north-south rail route, plus several private reports. The conclusion was that transportation based on one-way exportation would not be cost effective. Without having a connection to the national rail system allowing loads to move in both directions, it just would not pay.

Many of us remember when Humboldt Bay was a vibrant, active seaport having nearly 300 ships visit per year.

Much of the ships’ cargo consisted of chips and logs that were trucked all the way from southern Oregon and the Sacramento Valley.

With this in mind a group of us decided to revisit the idea of a rail connection to the Sacramento Valley that was abandoned when Highway 299 was built.

Researching other large projects we soon realized the first step would be to have a comprehensive, complete feasibility study done. The experts we talked with advised us that a study for a project this size would cost around $300,000.

At this point we realized there was a group of extreme no-growthers that felt threatened by the idea of a railroad coming back to Humboldt County. We soon learned that just asking if the project was feasible, was not acceptable to them.

One document the no-growthers like to refer to, is the rail study commissioned by the Harbor District.

It should be pointed out, when they refer to this study, they fail to give the actual title of the study which is “East West rail pre-feasibility study.” It should also be pointed out that the money used to pay for the study ($20,000) was left over from a much larger transportation grant ($250,000) studying existing road easements near the pulp mill site.

This underfunded study consists of cut and pasted parts from non east west rail related studies like the short sea shipping study, the north south rail study, among other private studies. When the study does refer to the east west route, it only looks at freight being transported in one direction, completely ignoring the fact the trains would be traveling with full loads in both directions. No wonder the study calls the route marginal.

Looking at the description of the route it is clear not much work went into research. For example, one of the routes goes through the Black Rock wilderness area.

When I was a member of the Harbor District’s economic development committee, I had a chance to ask the author of the Harbor Districts study if he thought his study was complete. He stated that it was very underfunded and a more in-depth study should be made. When I asked if he saw any fatal flaws in the East/West Rail concept, his answer was “no.” The meeting was recorded, and a copy should be available at the Harbor District office.

Another paper studying the East/West Rail was commissioned by Humboldt County Sup. Mark Lovelace. The Humboldt University grad students also came to the same conclusion, the East/West Rail concept should have a more in-depth study made. This study seems to have disappeared.

Trinity County should be congratulated for stepping up, and pushing this feasibility study forward.

I realize there is considerable push-back from a small group of no-growthers, but Trinity County realizes the East/West rail study is an extremely valuable planning tool for the future economies of all Northern California.

 

cal-train

The Caltrans economic model

 Patrick Meagher Weaverville

So, let’s put the pieces together that I have provided in my previous commentaries on the Up-state Rail Connect Study along with some new facts.

First, a 2013 study on the same subject established that rail line construction is feasible at a cost of more than a billion dollars and evaluated the project as high-cost and high-risk. New information from a trusted source is that the 2013 study was funded by Caltrans for the Humboldt Bay Harbor District. The 2013 study also pointed out that the cost to construct cargo terminal facilities in Humboldt Bay is more than $200 million.

Second, I have established that Caltrans has stated in a public document that they are now engaged along with Humboldt Bay seaport advocates in the economic development business, an area way outside Caltrans’ expertise. That fact, plus their funding of a new study on the same subject, may be worthy of a complaint to California State Auditor’s Office.

Third, Humboldt Bay, described in Caltrans documents as a “small port” and a “niche port,” has no port terminal facilities, no port terminal operator and, no maritime shipping company has expressed interest in using the port.

Now, more new information. I have had the opportunity to review the grant application for the new Caltrans funded study. The applicant is the Trinity County Transportation Commission whose executive director is Richard Tippett. To quote from the text of the grant proposal, “to better utilize this port (Humboldt Bay) Caltrans is modernizing Highway 299 — Rail is the only freight transportation piece missing.” So, here we are. More proof that Caltrans is in the economic development business.

This small, niche port for which Caltrans funded the initial 2013 rail connect study, now considers the study results to be too pessimistic. So Caltrans has organized another study at the cost of a quarter million dollars plus so that they can control the results through the Upstate RailConnect Committee.

Now for the best part, the Trinity County Transportation Commission is roped into management of this project for the sole benefit of Caltrans and Humboldt Bay seaport advocates’ agenda. I can hear the beginning of the giant Caltrans sucking sound when the Trinity County Transportation Commission agrees to manage this do-over of a perfectly acceptable 2013 rail connect study at their meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 20.

Coal and Oil shipments are running out of West Coast port options

After years of debate here in Humboldt County over the East-West “crazy train” we’ve reached new level of “crazy” because of the “illegitimate” election of Trump. His Coal and Oil at any cost positions and cabinet appointments should be very sobering to all of us in the Humboldt Bay region. Trump with the stroke of a pen can make the ridiculous and infeasible suddenly a serious threat. 

port-of-oakland

From High Country News:

Rev. Ken Chambers has lived in West Oakland for all of his 50 years and grappled with air pollution the entire time. The neighborhood, on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay, is surrounded by three major highways, an active railroad, and the fifth-busiest port in the country. Chambers’ four children showed symptoms of asthma, he says, a common condition among their neighbors. And although air quality has improved since then — thanks to new laws regulating emissions — the neighborhood’s mostly black, low-income residents still suffer from asthma rates up to three times higher than other parts of Oakland.

Last April, Chambers and his neighbors caught wind of a plan to redevelop the old Oakland Army Base, located along the waterfront in West Oakland, including a major new terminal for shipping coal to Asia. Proponents said that it would bolster the neighborhood’s struggling economy, and that coal exports were a necessary component, because they would provide revenue to operate the terminal. Critics, however, including Chambers, argued that fugitive coal dust blowing from trains headed for the port would further deteriorate West Oakland’s air quality, and that burning the coal overseas would exacerbate climate change.

And then, in late July, opponents scored a major victory when the Oakland City Council voted to ban shipments of coal from the city, citing the “false choice” between jobs and the environment — and halting the multimillion-dollar coal export proposal in its tracks.

The decision, which came after more than a year of feisty debate, placed Oakland at the center of a growing battle over the fate of the coal industry. Domestic demand for coal has collapsed in recent years, displaced by cheap natural gas, along with wind and solar power. As U.S. coal companies look to overseas markets for salvation, plans for the necessary West Coast export terminals have been blocked by local communities and environmental groups worried about climate change and human health and safety. Taken together, says Sierra Club attorney Jessica Loarie, the long-term market forces and growing public opposition “do not bode well for the coal industry.”

ships-at-port-of-oakland

None of this bodes well, either, for places like Carbon County, Utah, which got its name from its vast seams of coal. This rugged landscape southeast of Salt Lake City was already heavily mined by the late 1880s. It entered Old West history in 1897, when legendary bank robber Butch Cassidy and his partner, William Ellsworth “Elzy” Lay, stole the Pleasant Valley Coal Company’s $8,000 payroll. Later, nearly 400 miners died in two underground explosions, in 1900 and 1924.

Despite that early tumult, Carbon County grew to depend on coal. For most of the last century, coal supplied the vast majority of Utah’s energy needs and attracted the attention of other states as well. In the early 1980s, a Southern California electrical utility cooperative helped persuade the state to build a massive power plant, the Intermountain Power Project, in western Utah, promising to buy its coal-generated electricity.

But things changed as utilities increasingly switched to cheaper natural gas and renewables. In 2013, Los Angeles, which had a contract with IPP, voted to end its reliance on coal-fired electricity by 2025, in favor of natural gas. The decision stunned Carbon County, 75 to 80 percent of whose jobs depend on coal mining and power generation. Hundreds of locals have lost their jobs as coal-fired power plants have closed and mines have shuttered. “It put us into a tailspin,” says County Commissioner Jae Potter. “What do you do?”

That trend has rippled across the Interior West, from Colorado to Montana, amid plummeting U.S. demand for coal. After declaring bankruptcy, major firms like Arch Coal and Peabody Energy are downsizing — cutting jobs, closing unprofitable mines, and taking on less debt.

In the early days of coal’s decline, however, the industry still looked profitable to the private equity industry, which buys up troubled businesses, restructures them and sells them at a profit. Although the U.S. market was collapsing, Asia’s demand for coal appeared insatiable. Private equity firms, such as Salt Lake City-based Lighthouse Resources, bought mines in Montana and Wyoming and began pushing export projects in Washington and Oregon. And in 2013, Galena Asset Management invested over $104 million in Bowie Resources, a Kentucky-based coal company, to create Bowie Resource Partners. Backed by more than $800 million in private equity money, Bowie went on a spending spree, buying three Utah mines owned by Arch Coal. The company later bought three more mines — two in New Mexico and one in Colorado from Peabody Energy, another coal giant on the verge of bankruptcy. In a press release, Galena CEO Jeremy Weir heralded the Bowie partnership’s opportunity to “reshape the Western U.S. coal paradigm.”

In its financial documents, Bowie outlined plans to export its landlocked coal through West Coast ports. But it glossed over a major problem: The existing marine terminals in California and other West Coast states were too small to export the millions of tons of coal that its Utah mines could produce. A new larger terminal planned for West Oakland, however, could provide the opportunity Bowie needed.

W hen the marine terminal proposal for West Oakland first surfaced in 2013, coal was not mentioned. Instead, the developer said the terminal would ship bulk goods like iron ore, corn, wind turbines and auto parts. Chambers, like many of his neighbors, supported the project, which would help replace some of the 7,000 blue-collar jobs lost when Oakland Army Base closed in 1999.

Then, last April, a local Utah paper, the Richfield Reaper, broke a story that the developer had tried to keep under wraps: Four counties in Utah, where Bowie’s coal mines were located, intended to invest in the proposed Oakland terminal, with the intent of shipping their coal out of it.

The city’s vote against coal stalled the plan, and other blows soon followed, including new legislation banning state funding for bulk-coal terminals. In the signing letter, Gov. Jerry Brown highlighted California’s recent moves to replace coal with cleaner energy sources. “That’s a positive trend we need to build on,” he said, calling Oakland’s ban an important step that other localities — and the state — should follow.

By the end of August, things were looking even worse for the terminal: The four Utah counties where Bowie owns mines withdrew their application for the $53 million state loan to invest in the project, and Bowie canceled its IPO, citing poor market conditions.

In early November, construction began on the first phase of the Army base redevelopment, but whether or not the bulk terminal will still be part of the project remains uncertain. The developer, California Capital & Investment Group, and its terminal operator, Terminal Logistics Solutions, declined to be interviewed for this story.

One thing, however, is certain: The long-term economics of big export projects no longer appear as promising as they once did. Transporting coal by rail 1,500 miles from Utah to the West Coast is expensive, says Anna Zubets-Anderson, a senior analyst at Moody’s Investor Service. Add the cost of shipping it to Asia, and it’s tough for U.S. producers to compete with countries like India and Indonesia, which have much lower labor and transportation costs.

International coal prices have spiked recently, but Zubets-Anderson says the uptick is temporary, largely due to the Chinese government’s attempt to cut its own coal production and consumption. Heavy rain and flooding in other parts of Asia have also disrupted coal supplies. “When those issues are resolved, prices will go back down — likely by the middle of 2017.”

Elsewhere in the West, other export projects are facing a similar fate. Since 2007, the six coal terminal proposals slated for the Pacific Coast have dwindled to just one — the Millennium Bulk Terminal in Longview, Washington — after Lighthouse announced it was no longer supporting the Morrow Pacific Project in Oregon. In November, the project was terminated.

The proposed Millennium terminal in Washington is on similarly unsteady ground. After declaring bankruptcy last January, Arch Coal, a major investor in Millennium, sold its $57 million stake in the project, leaving Lighthouse as the sole backer. Meanwhile, hundreds of residents from across the Pacific Northwest testified against the project during the last round of public hearings in October, echoing the concerns expressed by other West Coast communities and Indigenous groups, such as Washington’s Cowlitz Tribe, who argue that coal export projects threaten cultural and economic resources like salmon, violating their treaty rights.

Other West Coast cities are also following Oakland’s lead. On Nov. 16, the Portland City Council voted 3-0 in favor of a resolution that would halt new fossil fuel infrastructure, such as export terminals, and expansions to existing facilities. A final vote is scheduled for Dec. 8.

For the industry, this combination of grassroots resistance and political opposition is creating financial risks — like a “one-two punch,” says Clark Williams-Derry, an energy expert at the Sightline Institute, an environmental think tank. And the uncertainty makes big projects harder and harder to justify.

Even President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to revive the ailing U.S. coal industry and put miners back to work is unlikely to turn things around. Increasing anti-coal activism and cheaper natural gas are discouraging utilities from investing in coal, says Zubets-Anderson — not just in the U.S., but around the world. “I don’t foresee the new administration being able to change that,” she says.

Though Chambers applauded Oakland’s decision to ban coal exports, he feels badly for places like Carbon County that hitched themselves to a single commodity. “They’re struggling, too,” he says. West Oakland can empathize. Like Carbon County, it needs jobs — but not, Chambers believes, at the expense of human health.

http://www.hcn.org/issues/48.21/plans-falter-for-west-coast-coal-terminals

Correspondent Sarah Tory writes from Paonia, Colorado, covering Utah, environmental justice and water issues. 

 

Chief East-West railroad “BS caller”, Patrick Meagher Strikes again

humboldt bay

Edited from the Trinity Journal:

MORE PROBLEMS FOR UP STATE RAIL CONNECT COMMITTEE AND CALTRANS

Patrick Meagher

The Up State Rail Connect Committee meeting held in the Veterans Hall (in Weaverville) on November 9, 2016 At that meeting I identified the intractable problems that prevent Humboldt Bay from becoming a commercial cargo seaport.  I have discussed these problems at length in previous commentaries.

During the review of the proposed Scope of Work for the study, the presenter challenged my comments regarding Humboldt Bay by emphatically stating, and I paraphrase here, “we have to make an assumption for this study and we are assuming that there will be a functioning cargo port in Humboldt Bay.”  I am certainly in agreement with the presenter that certain assumptions have to be made.  However, there must be facts and data that support the assumptions and unfortunately, none were offered by the committee.

So, let me offer an alternative assumption about the proposed Humboldt Bay seaport with facts and data that support it.  There will not be a functioning commercial cargo seaport in Humboldt Bay’s future, and here is why.  History, besides its geographical attributes as a small “niche” seaport it has only handled a small trade with forest products and aggregates and that trade dried-up years ago.  Until relatively recently there was never a push to move into the big leagues and compete for cargo against major ports like Oakland and LA/Long Beach.

Isolation, Humboldt Bay is in the middle of nowhere.  Even if there was a rail connection in place now it would be at least a 200 mile trip just to the Sacramento Valley UP rail line.  The nearest classification yard where freight train consists are assembled is in Roseville.  That is another 200 miles south on the UP line or approximately 400 miles from Humboldt Bay seaport to the UP train classification yard.  It is impossible for Humboldt Bay to compete with port of Oakland in rail travel cost and travel time.  Oakland’s distance to the Roseville UP train classification yard is about100 miles.

Maritime container freight economics, I’ve addressed this issue in detail in previous commentaries.  It’s those darn economies-of-scale again.  Humboldt Bay cannot compete successfully for container freight with Oakland, LA/Long Beach because it’s just too small.  Decline in overseas purchase of commodities and decimation of commercial bulk commodity shipping fleets, I have addressed these issues in previous commentaries, again, making Humboldt Bay a non-starter as an operating cargo seaport.  The 2003 Humboldt Bay Revitalization Plan said very clearly, do not spend public money in support of a cargo seaport in a “build it and they will come” manner for reasons that still exist today.  Finally, there are no port terminal facilities, no port terminal operator, and no commitment from any maritime shipping line now or in the future to use Humboldt Bay as a cargo destination.  Again, I have reported on this in previous commentaries.

So, where are we?  CALTRANS and the Humboldt Bay seaport advocates marshal no facts or data to support their assumption that there will be an operating commercial cargo seaport there.  Instead it is based on wishful thinking and “Trust-us” statement’s.

The facts and data I have presented here and in previous commentaries clearly say the opposite.  The proposed CALTRANS quarter million dollar plus (375k) grant to Trinity County to study a rail connection to a cargo seaport in Humboldt Bay that doesn’t exist and never will is an unconscionable waste of public funds.  CALTRANS what were you thinking?  How did you get roped into this by the Humboldt Bay seaport advocates?  How could you buy into an “economic development” commitment that is based on wishful thinking and then announce it in the California State Rail Plan?  Who in the CALTRANS hierarchy is responsible for that decision and the decision to follow through with a quarter million dollar plus grant to Trinity County for the study of a rail line to a non-existent commercial cargo seaport?