The business case for ever building two coal export mega-terminals in the Pacific Northwest is falling apart.
From the Guardian:
China's coal imports fall nearly half in 12 months as anti-pollution drive bites
China’s coal imports fell by nearly half in the first three months of the year as the slowing economy and tougher rules on pollution took their toll.
Imports by the world’s biggest coal consumer reached 49.07m tonnes in the first quarter, a fall of 42% on the same period a year ago according to data from the Chinese customs office.
Trade figures for March showed that imports were down overall by 12.3% while exports badly missed expectations, falling 15% from a year earlier.
Coal imports for March were up 17m tonnes, a rise of 11.6% on the previous month, but analysts said underlying demand eased after taking into account the shorter month and week-long new year holiday in February.
“We have seen an even weaker coal demand in March,” said Zhang Xiaojin, an analyst at Everbright Futures in Zhengzhou.
Along with subdued demand, China’s demand for coal has been curbed by tougher environmental checks from Beijing to tackle air pollution.
China will boost efforts this year to reduce pollution and cut the energy intensity of its economy, which is expected to grow at its lowest rate in 25 years.
The national development commission said in its annual report in March that it would implement policies aimed at reducing coal consumption and controlling the number of energy-intensive projects in polluted regions.
This is also probably linked to implementation of Obama's climate deal with the Chinese Government.
This will no doubt also affect planned coal export mega-terminals in Australia and elsewhere. That is very good news of all of us who didn't invest in planning big infrastructure projects for the dirtiest energy sources available (like building Keystone XL would).
This is very bad news for domestic coal producers who were looking to vibrant export markets in Asia as their way to maintain production as America's consumption has diminished in response to utilities converting to cheaper natural gas.
The companies planning the Pacific Gateway Terminal near Bellingham and the Millennium Bulk Terminals in Longview Wa. won't admit the world is moving away from coal (far too slowly). They've invested millions of dollars, and pin their hopes on a turnaround in world coal prices.
Coal is becoming a declining source of energy for world economies as the specter of Global Warming comes into sharper definition as our climate science improves, and we see the effects beginning to manifest themselves in all kinds of alarming ways.
But many parts of the world still remain dependent on coal for electricity. That's where more advanced economies need to step up and help in their conversion to green(er) sources of energy.