The President and his advisors have repeatedly stressed that they do not believe they have to choose between the environment and the economy. The governors of Oregon and Washington are not making it easy on him; in fact, that’s precisely the choice they’ve asked him to make on exports. In a letter sent today to the President’s Council on Environmental Quality, the two governors asked for a boundless, limitless, and to our knowledge unprecedented, life cycle impact analysis of five planned coal export terminals and the cargo being transported through them, all before issuing a permit for the first one.
The kind of review they are asking for is Keystone-on-steroids; they want the President to decide whether we should be exporting coal AT ALL before issuing a permit to expand the terminals. Never mind that the ports will ship other products besides coal. Never mind that thousands of high-paying construction jobs are at stake in a region where construction jobs are at their lowest point in a decade. And never mind that such a radical change in the law could be used to block exports of, well, everything.
This last point has manufacturers very concerned. Virtually every product we export, from cars to turbines to planes to grains, has an environmental impact. The already-too-long permitting process for new projects–a process that takes on average 3.4 years–would become completely unmanageable if the law were expanded to require the type of review the two governors are now seeking.
The NAM was created in 1895 because manufacturers needed to find opportunities to export their products. We will continue to fight efforts to erect unnecessary barriers beyond what is required by law.
Ross Eisenberg is vice president of energy and resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.