Writings and observations

idaho RANDY
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Idaho

Idaho’s much-vaunted “sovereignty” is limited in more ways than many Idahoans would like to contemplate. Ambre Energy, much to its consternation, probably could tell you something about that.

Amber (see ambreenergy.com) is into coal, in a big way. Its web site notes that it “has a diverse portfolio of interests in coal mining, infrastructure and marketing. In the United States Pacific Northwest, we are linking our interests to build a US coal export business to Asian markets.” It has mines in Montana, Wyoming and Utah, and works with other mining companies in that region. It produces a lot of coal.

As it notes, the plan is to ship a lot of that coal across the Pacific, to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The early stages of that shipping process would run the coal through Idaho, across the Panhandle in the case of the Montana and some of the Wyoming mines, and across southern Idaho for the more southerly mines. Idaho does not seem to be an obstacle to that effort.

The next destinations west, Oregon and Washington, are, and coal transport in recent weeks has become one of the hottest issues in those states. It has meshed there with concernes about crude-oil trains and the shipping of liquified natural gas (which in Oregon has been a flashpoint issue in some places for a decade and more). Coal operators have proposed shipping at Longview and Bellingham, and have looked at other locations as well. To be clear: We’re talking here about energy exports, not use of the resource in the United States.

Oregon has put up some notable red flags. After the Port of Morrow (near Boardman) leased some land to Ambre for its shipping efforts, activists got busy. Governor John Kitzhaber on April 19 said flatly, “It is time to once and for all say NO to coal exports from the Pacific Northwest. It is time to say YES to national and state energy policies that will transform our economy and our communities into a future that can sustain the next generation.”

Washington’s new Governor Jay Inslee has been moving along similar directions in overseeing state approvals at ports there.

While megaloads carrying mechanical equipment have been a heated subject in Idaho, these fuel (and fuel resource – some have to be refined before overseas transport) shipping debates have only lightly hit the radar yet. In Idaho, the arguments for shipping the coal may have some of the same appeal that the Keystone pipeline (which also is aimed at energy resource exports, not domestic use) seems to have in the state.

Consider this another notch in the ramping-up of different approaches between Idaho and its western neighbors, and another example of how those ideas may get in the way of each other. Legalized pot and same-sex marriage are but two examples of the differences which have been smaller-bore in the past, but may get larger as time goes on, as the reds and blues in different jurisdictions get ever deeper.

Turns out that sovereignty – meaning, in one dictionary, “a country’s independent authority and the right to govern itself,” is distinctly limited.

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Idaho Idaho column

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Otter foreword on Smeed pamphlet dropped (Boise Statesman)
Judge okays adoption by same-sex couple (Boise Statesman)
Palouse may see 7 pot stops (Lewiston Tribune)
Nez Perce report increase in gambling money (Lewiston Tribune)
Lottery results released for pot shops (Moscow News)
Many mentally ill in criminal justice system (Moscow News)
Idaho has fewer college-degreed workers (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocastello tightens nuisance ordinance (Pocatello Journal)
Health West Inc. growing rapidly (Pocatello Journal)
Simpson approves Benghazi inquiry (Pocatello Journal)
Donations to Idaho Gives doing well (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Bonner County fires emergency medical chief (Sandpoint Bee)
Conflict among Snake River jump groups (TF Times News)
Gowen Field may pull in new air force planes (TF Times News)

North Bend charter school may use call center (Coos Bay World)
At Coos, more mosquito control planned (Coos Bay World)
Republicans gearing up for Senate race (Coos Bay World)
Eugene schools talks start uneasily (Eugene Register Guard)
Lane Commissioner Stewart challenged (Eugene Register Guard)
New BuRec director at Klamath basin (KF Herald & News)
Water use may be limited as of June 1 (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Rising voter registration in Jackson Co (Ashland Tidings)
Richardson seems likely GOP governor nominee (Medford Tribune)
Pendleton Grain Growers sells stores (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Kitzhaber jogs feds on oil trains (Portland Oregonian)
Rosenblum: don’t let anti-gay marriage group into case (Salem Statesman Journal)

Everett may see first hospice (Everett Herald)
Evaluating landslide risks in Snohomish (Everett Herald)
Results of pot lottery released (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Longview News)
Home prices take big increase (Seattle Times)
Idaho sues Coeur d’Alene casino on poker (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma considers gun show ordinance (Tacoma News Tribune)
Questions about Tesoro terminal timeline (Vancouver Columbian)

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