14 Jan '12, 10am

Why railroads care about coal exports

Why railroads care about coal exports

Cross-posted from Sightline Daily . Here are three pictures that help explain why American railways seem to be supporting coal export proposals in the Northwest. It's because railways are very closely connected to the coal industry. Consider: Coal so dwarfs every other rail-hauled commodity that it is almost as important as all the other commodities combined. (Note: This picture excludes "intermodal" freight.) But while coal is a huge component of rail freight, it declined noticeably in 2009 and 2010: Presumably, a good deal of the recent decline is related to a lousy economy and the attendant reduction in demand for electrical power and industrial uses of coal. Yet the recently depressed coal rail volumes are not entirely driven by the economic downtown. In fact, coal fired-power is on a long-term downward trajectory: Going forward, that downward trend is likely to contin...

Full article: http://www.grist.org/coal/2012-01-14-why-railroads-care-a...

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