I read in this morning's paper that the forum last night was overwhelmingly in favor of building a coal port at Cherry Point. Similar crowds gathered earlier this year to oppose the idea just as loudly.
Both sides prefer to ignore a few simple facts of life:
1. The decision to ship our coal to China is a national decision, but that consensus is shifting as each community turns away from the policies of the past. The long-term momentum is clearly turning away from fossil fuels and toward renewables.
2. Our choice is not just between protecting the environment and creating new jobs. There is a third factor that needs our national attention: national security.
In the 1930s some Americans were happy to sell scrap metal to Japan. Now some of us are happy to sell coal to China. In the long run, we may regret that policy and thank the environmentalists for applying the brakes sooner rather than too late. Coal, like any extractive industry, inevitably increases in unit cost as the "unlimited supply" finds its limits.
Decades from now, will we have the strategic reserves of fuel when we need them, or will China?