Oregon Transportation Commission Testimony, July 17, 2014
presented by Jim Powers
Good afternoon. My name is Jim Powers and I live in Albany, Oregon.
As a five generation Oregonian, human being, and member of our Earth Ecosystem I must oppose three grant applications: 1M0294 (Berth 2)[i], 1M0352 (Berth 1) [ii] and 1R0350 (A-Street rail construction) because ConnectOregon funds should not subsidize coal and crude oil shipping, an activity that substantially increases Carbon Dioxide pollution.
Civilization has moved beyond the time when the effects of CO2 pollution are in doubt. We understand that the decisions made by ConnectOregon are inter-connected to the entire planet.
We can all observe the economic and social costs of CO2 pollution:
- Rising sea levels and bigger storms and flooding in our coastal cities,
- Rivers running dry with costs to our farmers, ranchers and ecosystems,
- Bigger and hotter fires, destroying timber, grasslands, homes and businesses,
- Loss of ocean food sources caused by acidification,
- Higher costs for drinking water and
We all know that burning oil and coal is harmful to the public health and that humanity must lower atmospheric carbon levels below 350 ppm if we have any hope of continuing civilization, as we have known it into the next century.
So…this is not a small issue. Your decisions to make that will affect all future generations.
Civilized societies learn from the past and progress. We now value and weigh the social and environmental costs of our decisions – money and jobs are not our only values.
- In 2014 it is unacceptable for smokers to pollute the air others will breathe, even at the cost to tobacco profits and jobs.
- It is unacceptable to export mad-cow tainted meat. Even if it was in the economic interest of the cattle industry.
- In 2014 the social cost of constructing new coal-fired power plants in Oregon is unacceptable, even if it produced hundreds of jobs.
- In 2014 you would reject economic development that eliminated pollution devices. Why? Because we now recognize the social costs of air & water pollution and have decided they are unacceptable.
In 2014 it is also unacceptable to fund these three projects that will increase the amount of carbon pollution in the Earth’s atmosphere and that will have, not may have a high social cost to not only Oregon’s citizens but to all life on the planet, is just unacceptable in 2014.
The ConnectOregon recommendation process has failed us all and I am asking you to reconsider your criteria before final decisions are made.
By ignoring the social cost of carbon dioxide pollution when weighing the economic impact of your projects you have come to a false conclusion and scored these projects as “significant net positive impacts.” Or 3 on your Point System.
When taken into considered you will re- categorize these as “significant net NEGATIVE impacts” on the economy.
Let’s do the math and see what the economic impact is.
Step 1: What is the cost of the damage Carbon Dioxide pollution causes?
Scientists at the EPA publish a table with the best scientific data establishing a range of Economic costs in dollars to society of the damage from each ton of CO2 pollution. This is called the Social Cost of Carbon Table[iii]. (It is sourced in my written testimony).
This indicates that each ton of CO2 released into the atmosphere in 2015 will cost us from $12 to $116 over the remainder of the century. The difference in these figures depends on the discount rate you apply to the future harm.
These figures go up each year in the future and the 30 year average costs are $17 and $170 per ton of CO2.
So lets use the lowest figure $17 / CO2 ton
Step 2: How much oil will move through this port and end up burned?
If these port improvements are completed with your help, Global Partners plans to move 24 unit trains per month / 288 trains per year through the Port onto Panamax ships.
Each unit train will carry 1-2 million gallons of crude oil[iv]. And produce between 13 and 27 Thousand Tons of CO2 pollution. [v]
288 trains will produce 4 MILLION tons of CO2 Pollution (at the 1 million gallon level) and twice this for larger trains.
Again, let’s use the lowest figure 4 Million tons of CO2 release per year.
Step 3: What is the economic impact of this pollution?
At 2015 rates the minimum Social Cost is $47 Million per year & $2 Billion over 30 years.
This is the lowest, possible, Cost / Harm of approving these projects.
A $2 Billion Environmental Cost makes these a minus 3 on your scale: “significant net NEGATIVE impact.” And must be rejected.
The maximum EPA rates of damage and larger or more unit trains unloading at the port put the damage to all of us in the $40 BILLION range.
Just do the math.
Weigh these harms against the advertised benefits. Make your recommendations.
And then go home and tell your children and grandchildren that you are looking out for them.
CO2 Pollution Calculation