This gets us back to the “law of unintended consequences.” We can’t expand exports without private investment and without increased export capabilities, there is little room for economic development. Recently in Oregon, two projects have fallen through — a proposed terminal in Coos Bay and Kinder Morgan’s project in Port Westward. There originally had been five proposed facilities and given that not all would’ve been economically viable, it’s not surprising these two have pulled out. The real concern lies in the loss of infrastructure investment that would’ve come from the development of these facilities. As we now know, the true benefit is far more than originally thought. We simply cannot let the three remaining facilities left waiting for approval and authorization fail; agriculture exports depend on them to succeed in the coming years.
There are leaders who understand the severity of the situation. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., recently asked, “How many more times, if confirmed, will this EPA director pull the regulatory lever and allow another mining family to fall through the EPA’s trap door to joblessness, to poverty and to poor health?”
Blocking economic development, whether through burdensome regulations or prolonged environmental reviews, will negatively affect the industry and indirectly affect significantly more businesses.
Oftentimes, people focus on the consequences of a particular action and miss the indirect consequences. Unfortunately, in debate surrounding the coal export terminals, the unintended consequences of blocking economic opportunities are the most severe.
Grace Boatright is the National Grange legislative director.