This week, Cloud Peak Energy announced that it will begin to ship up to 1 million tons of coal annually to Japan by the end of 2019. The U.S. coal, which will travel through Washington to ship from Canadian ports, will fuel two new coal-fired power plants that were constructed as part of an initiative by the Japanese to replace power generated from nuclear reactors following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.
Although this commodity will travel through Washington, the state’s burdensome regulatory environment has ensured that Washington will realize none of the job creation or economic benefits.
This is a troubling sign for the future.
Demand for coal-based power in Asia and other nations has grown in recent years and is projected to continue. In fact, the International Energy Agency (IEA) expects global coal-fired capacity to increase by about 50 percent over today’s levels by 2040. And Japan, like many countries, has made a sizable commitment to powering itself on coal for the foreseeable future.
As a nation that imports 96 percent of its energy resources, the U.S. – and Washington in particular, given its strategic location – is in a perfect position to meet Japan’s growing demand for energy. But for the state to take advantage of these opportunities, Washington needs to a competitive regulatory environment that ensures timely and reliable consideration of proposed projects – and that’s not necessarily the case now.