Coal is not a plentiful resource in Washington, but it does play an important role in our energy mix. With virtually no industrial use, coal is primarily used to generate electricity for Washington consumers and for export. Much of that electricity is generated in Montana, by a power plant owned in part by Puget Sound Energy.
Due to an abundance of deepwater ports, Washington is also a potential host for export terminals to ship Power River Basin coal to Asian markets. Controversy over these terminals has been strong and applications are pending review.
At present, Washington serves as a "pass-through" state for coal going to the port of Vancouver. A half-dozen trains a day cross the state, passing through populated cities on the eastern side of Puget Sound.
As we continue to remake our electricity grid, we need better understandings of concerns and beliefs of the public and stakeholder groups.
Our home city of Bellingham is one of 50 American cities competing for the Georgetown University Energy Prize. The award is $5,000,000. With funding from the University's Green Fee Program, WWU students have initiated Project RENT. Starting in September 2015, they will begin reaching out to the off-campus student population of about 11,000. If we can help them reduce their energy consumption, students can save money while helping Bellingham in the GUEP competition. Thomas Webler also serves on the Leadership Committee for Bellingham GUEP team. In Spring 2015 we welcomed the involvement of Students from Net Impact, a new campus organization. More on Bellingham's GUEP campaign is here.
Marine Oil Spills
This project tells the history of Washington State’s oil refineries from the 1950s Canadian boom to the contemporary influx of Bakken crude. The goal is to understand their current and historic roles in the state’s energy landscape through examination of the energy flows, infrastructure, pollution and economic implications associated with the refining industry. Special consideration goes toward mapping the litany of policy actors and issues that interact with the industry. No comprehensive history of the refining industry in the state currently exists. This project seeks to fill that void while providing concise, digestible information and a conduit for further research and discourse. Furthermore, rectifying the opaque, and decentralized information concerning theses plants allows a more efficient and inclusive discussion of energy policies within Washington State.
This project utilizes information made available via the Department of Ecology, Energy Information Administration, IHS, first hand interviews, local, regional and national newspapers, and various independent energy consultants, think-tanks and research institutes to decode the policy issues surrounding Washington State’s oil refineries.
Oil and gas pipelines are not common within Washington State, but there are several key ones that carry crude oil, refined products, and natural gas. Leah Bennett researched the location and purpose of these pipelines, she mapped them onto a state base map using GIS techniques. She also computed the amount of energy flowing through the pipelines on a yearly basis and documented the populations exposed to the risk of an explosion were a pipeline to rupture.