Coal

Coal companies wanted to use the Columbia River to export dirty coal to Asia. You stopped them.

The people have prevailed over every coal export proposal in Oregon and Washington, thanks to relentless grassroots opposition from Northwest communities and powerful work by several Tribal Nations.

Millennium Bulk Terminals: Longview, Washington

coal train cars in gorge, photo by dan dancer

The Millennium project would have exported up to 44 million tons of strip-mined coal per year from the Powder River Basin through Longview, Washington, to Asia. If built, Millennium would have been the largest coal export terminal in North America.

In 2017, the Washington Department of Natural Resources, the Washington Department of Ecology, and Cowlitz County denied four permits for the coal export terminal. The coal company challenged each permit denial in court (sometimes in multiple courts). Riverkeeper and our allies, represented by Earthjustice, intervened in these cases to help defend Washington's good decisions. Those cases were pending or on appeal from 2017 to 2021. 

The company behind Millennium coal export filed for bankruptcy in 2020. In early 2021, a bankruptcy court canceled the company’s lease for the proposed terminal site.

In June of 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the coal company’s last remaining appeal related to the denial of permits for the Millennium coal export terminal. The high court’s decision officially ended the Millennium coal export proposal. 

Millennium’s demise caps a decade of work and success opposing more than six coal export proposals that would have transformed the Columbia River into a coal chute.  

Watch this video "Washington State Denies Coal Terminal, What's Next?":

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.