“Green-ness” of barging on the lower Snake River in question

barging emissions comparison

Barging emissions exceed rail and truck transportation when reservoir emissions are included.

Inland barging, like that which takes place on the Columbia and lower Snake Rivers, has been advertised as the greenest form of transportation of goods from inland ports.  Comparisons with rail and truck show less fossil fuel consumption by barges and thus less greenhouse gas emissions.  But new scientific evidence is showing that a key component of barging, the flat water reservoirs that they depend upon, actually emit significant amounts of greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide.  When reservoir emissions are added to the barge emissions from burning fossil fuels, barging no longer looks so green.  Rail becomes the true green choice.

More information can be found in the following reports.

Transportation Methods, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and the Lower Snake River Reservoirs

The Lower Snake River Reservoirs Generate Significant Amounts of Methane, a Potent Greenhouse Gas