Coal

American coal companies want to export coal to Asia. Most coal trains would travel down the Columbia River.

The people have prevailed, so far, over every coal export proposal in Oregon and Washington, thanks to relentless effort and powerful work by several tribal nations. Learn about these inspiring efforts and the status of the coal company's last-ditch legal appeals. 

Millennium Bulk Terminals: Longview, Washington

coal train cars in gorge, photo by dan dancer

The Millennium project would export up to 44 million tons of strip-mined coal per year from the Powder River Basin through a port in Longview, Washington. Millennium is backed by Resource Capital Fund, a private equity firm registered in the Cayman Islands. If built, Millennium would be the largest coal export terminal in North America.

We celebrated the January 2017 decision by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to reject Millennium’s request to sublease state-owned aquatic land to build a new coal dock. The coal project received a second blow from the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) in September 2017. Ecology rejected Millennium’s Clean Water Act section 401 Water Quality Certification. Without Ecology’s approval, Millennium cannot ship coal.

In October 2017, DNR rejected Millennium’s request to make “improvements” (i.e. build a dock to ship coal) on state-owned aquatic land in the Columbia River. Then, in November 2017, Millennium received strike four when Cowlitz County denied two Shoreline permits for the proposed Millennium coal export terminal for causing significant unavoidable harm and failing to meet the requirements of the Shorelines Management Act. Without these permits, Millennium cannot go forward. The Cowlitz County found that the harmful impacts to public health and the environment “preclude any conclusion that the Project results in a long-term over short-term benefit.” The harmful impacts include excess noise; increased risk of cancer; traffic delays; and disproportionate impacts to minority and low-income communities, statewide rail capacity, rail safety, vessel transportation, tribal resources, and greenhouse gas emissions.

DNR, Ecology, and the County have denied four key permits or use authorizations for the coal export terminal. Millennium continues to appeal each denial in court—and sometimes in multiple courts. Riverkeeper and allies have intervened in these cases to help defend Washington's good decisions. Earthjustice represents our coalition. We won’t stop fighting until Millennium officially throws in the towel.

Gateway Pacific Terminal: Cherry Point, Washington

handbills with no coal signs at coal hearing

After careful review, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) issued a landmark decision denying federal permits for SSA Marine’s proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal, a coal export facility at Xwe’chi’eXen, also known as Cherry Point, Washington. In January 2015, the Lummi Nation asked the Army Corps to reject the project because of its significant harm to treaty-protected fisheries and ancestral lands. The historic decision dealt a severe blow to SSA Marine’s struggling proposal and marked the first time that a coal export facility was rejected based on its negative impacts to the treaty rights of a tribal nation.

Subsequently, DNR expanded the aquatic reserve at Cherry Point to include the would-be dock site for the Gateway Pacific Terminal. SSA Marine formally withdrew its permit application for the coal project on February 7, 2017.

Visit www.PowerPastCoal.org for the latest news and updates on the coal export campaign in the Pacific Northwest.

Morrow Pacific: Port of Morrow and Port Westward, Oregon

coal victory artwork, art by nina montenegro

Your commitment to blocking dirty coal export in Oregon prevailed! Ambre Energy’s proposal to barge coal down the Columbia River from the Port of Morrow to Port Westward is dead.

In 2014, the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) denied Ambre Energy a crucial permit to build a dock at the Port of Morrow. DSL found that allowing Ambre to build a coal dock would interfere with the existing fishery located at the proposed dock site and that “the fishery is more significant than the benefit of a coal dock.”  Ambre Energy appealed, but ultimately withdrew its appeal in November 2016.

Strong and strategic opposition from tribal nations, including Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Nez Perce Tribe, as well as The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission earned this victory. The commitment from residents across the Pacific Northwest, and the work of the Power Past Coal coalition, contributed to this victory. Thank you.

More information about the campaign to protect the Columbia from dirty coal:

Riverkeeper is a proud member of Power Past Coal.

 

More Nails in the Coal Export Coffin

Your hard work keeps paying off. On November 14, 2017, Cowlitz County delivered another blow to the proposed Millennium coal export terminal. The Cowlitz County Hearing Examiner denied two key permits because Millennium failed to meet the requirements of the Shorelines Management Act.