Thursday, March 3, 2011

Long Train Running to China Grove

About a year ago, my employer relocated to a new office building. Many of my co-workers have a spectacular view of Bellingham Bay, or the city lights. But being a railroad buff, I chose an office overlooking the main line through Bellingham just across the street. Out my office window, I see passenger trains, freight trains, miscellaneous track maintenance trains and other interesting vehicles.

But the most impressive trains are the coal trains. They usually have five of the largest locomotives, two on one end and three on the other, bracketing about a mile of identical hopper cars, each one heaped to the brim with coal. About five or six of these trains a day (while I'm in the office) head north, fully loaded, and five or six head south, empty. Every day. There may be more while I'm not watching.

I always wondered where that coal was coming from, and where it was going. Intalco? It takes a lot of electricity to smelt aluminum. No, that coal comes from Colorado, is shipped by rail to the lower mainland of British Columbia, where it is loaded onto ships and hauled to China!

Because coal is deemed too "polluting" to be burned in the USA, we use countless gallons of precious liquid petroleum to ship it to China to be burned! I wonder how much coal would be left if they used the energy in the coal itself to haul it to China? This is sheer idiocy! To prevent pollution, we create more pollution to ship it somewhere else to be burned anyway. Doh!

If freedom still rang in this country, we would burn the coal on site, or at least near where it is mined (to generate electricity, or liquefy it for mobile applications). Somehow, we have to get the environmental extremists off our backs and restore some sanity. Our current energy policy is worse than no energy policy.

Update: Thanks to Shelly for the shout-out!


  1. Karl....too true. We could use this coal here in Colorado, but the current State and Federal administrations would rather support the shipping of it overseas. We still do benefit from the local production of the coal on the West Slope, but until we replace the incompetent fools at both the State and Federal levels, nothing positive will happen and we will continue to head to the cliff that we are facing.....Dave in Colorado

  2. I don't want to sound like I'm faulting anyone for selling coal to the Chinese. If we didn't have "watermelons" (green on the outside, red on the inside) running this country, we wouldn't have to. We could use it ourselves, much more cleanly, efficiently and economically.


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