The Legal Battle To Save The Largest Coal Export Terminal In The US Is Heating Up
An industry trade group is joining the legal fight to approve a proposal to build the largest coal terminal in the U.S. in Washington.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) filed an amicus brief to a U.S. district court in Washington Wednesday, siding with Millennium Bulk Terminals in its lawsuit against the state for blocking the terminal through a hyper-political review process.
“Unfortunately, some states have made it nearly impossible to get a permit to do just about anything, and infrastructure projects like coal export terminals have been subjected to politically-motivated delays,” NAM Senior Vice President Linda Kelly said in a statement. “At seemingly every point in the decision-making process for the Millennium Bulk Terminals project, Washington state regulators have distorted the law to achieve their political goal of killing this job-creating project.”
Cowlitz County, where the terminal was proposed to be built, joined the lawsuit against the state April 9.
Millennium Bulk Terminals sued state regulators on Oct. 24, 2017, for “biased and prejudiced decision-making” related to a water quality permit the project needs to move forward. The water quality permit, denied Sept. 26 of 2017, was one of 23 that regulators required before construction could begin. Millennium had spent roughly $15 million on the permitting process up to that point.
“There are simply too many unavoidable and negative environmental effects for the project to move forward,” Washington’s Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon said when announcing the permit had been denied. Bellon’s department considered nine broad categories of potential environmental harm: air quality, vehicle traffic, vessel traffic, rail capacity, rail safety, noise pollution, social and community resources, cultural resources, and tribal resources.
If completed, the terminal may handle as much as 44 million tons of coal annually, largely from mines in Wyoming and Montana. Most of the coal would be sent on ships to ports in Asia, especially China.
Washington and Oregon have killed six different coal-related projects along the Columbia River and in Puget Sound since 2010 to the satisfaction of environmental groups.
Follow Tim Pearce on Twitter