I have a hunch that this is going to turn out about as well as the Trump regime's other half-baked plans for propping up the American coal industry, but the Associated Press reports that Interior Ryan Zinke wants to bail out the coal industry by letting them use military bases and other federal land to export coal.
The plan is in the earliest stages of development, meaning it could be something Zinke just made up on the spot, but it calls for allowing the coal industry to use federal land to export coal because west coast states have decided not to build any new ports for coal.
“I respect the state of Washington and Oregon and California,” Zinke said in an interview with AP. “But also, it’s in our interest for national security and our allies to make sure that they have access to affordable energy commodities.”
Accomplishing that, Zinke said, may require the use of “some of our naval facilities, some of our federal facilities on the West Coast.” He only identified one prospect, a mostly abandoned Alaska military base. [...]
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, called the proposal a “harebrained idea,” and said President Donald Trump should instead consider that climate change represents a national security threat.
In addition to being legally dubious, it may also be physically impossible to implement this plan if it's ever finalized.
Physical challenges are the only reason we're talking about this right now. Deep-water ports are necessary for exporting coal and the coal industry sought to build new ports for that purpose. Not just any military or federal facility will meet the coal industry's needs which is why Zinke was only able to identify one possible location (in Alaska which is very far away from any coal producing state) when asked about it by the Associated Press.
The idea that this policy is necessary to ensure that "our allies" have "access to affordable energy" is a lie.
Solar power is now cheaper than coal worldwide and the biggest markets in the world are heavily investing in solar energy. India, for example, which is biggest market for exports of American coal, is now investing even more money than China is.
Furthermore, according to official government data, most the coal we still export to Asia is exported through the east coast, not the west coast. More specifically, through Norfolk, Virginia and Baltimore, Maryland.
It may not be a coincidence that opening up military bases on the west coast to private coal operations would mostly benefit coal companies in western states like Montana. Ryan Zinke is from Montana.