The proposed Morrow Pacific coal export terminal faces the latest in a series of disappointments today. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced that project proponent Ambre Energy can receive its water quality certification only if it also receives a permit from the Oregon Department of State Lands—a permit that State Lands already rejected in August 2014.
Unless Ambre prevails in its ongoing appeal of State Lands' rejection of its “removal-fill” permit, which the company needs before building a dock at the port, the DEQ’s water quality certification will not be valid.
In response to the decision, Brett VandenHeuvel of the Power Past Coal Coalition said:
“This is another mark in the loss column for Ambre Energy because DEQ linked its certification to the rejected dock building permit. The end result is clear: Ambre is plagued by financial instability and unable to secure key state and federal permits. The coal export terminal threatens our communities, as well as Columbia River salmon and the people that depend on a healthy fishery. This coal export project is dead in the water.”
On August 18, 2014, the Department of State Lands (DSL) rejected Ambre Energy’s request for a removal-fill permit on a number of grounds, including impacts on tribal salmon fisheries. Ambre appealed DSL’s decision to reject the permit, and today the Oregon Department of Justice is defending that decision. Without a dock to move coal from coal trains to barges, Ambre has no way of moving over 8 million tons of coal down the Columbia. As U.S. coal companies face declining export markets, Ambre’s financial struggles have left it facing bankruptcy and unable to find new investors. Ambre recently sold its North American coal operations to their main creditor, a private equity firm registered in the Cayman Islands.