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Oregon rejects coal terminal on Columbia


Oregon’s Department of State Lands denied a permit on Monday for a proposed coal terminal that would have sent 8.8 million tons of coal per year down the Columbia River on barges.

Had the permit been approved, the coal shipments would have passed by Troutdale, Fairview and Wood Village.

Australia-based Ambre Energy proposed the Coyote Island terminal at Port of Morrow near Boardman in Eastern Oregon.

Barges loaded with coal would have traveled more than 200 miles on the river to Port Westward, Wash., and then shipped overseas to Asia.

The state agency based its denial on the lack of public need for the project, harm to fisheries, failure of the project to conform to “sound policies of conservation,” failure to mitigate for adverse effects, and the availability of other alternatives to the proposed project.

Nathan Baker, attorney for Friends of the Columbia Gorge, said barge traffic on the river would have doubled as a result of the company’s plan, which was proposed to operate at maximum capacity.

Baker said Ambre has the right to file an appeal, but that could take years to get resolved.

The decision kills the fourth of six proposed coal terminals in the Northwest. The two remaining and the largest, include one proposed for Longview, Wash., and another at Cherry Point, north of Bellingham, Wash. Both would bring coal through the Columbia River Gorge by train rather than barges, Baker said.

Michael Lang, director of Friends of the Columbia Gorge, an organization of 5,000 members dedicated to protecting the Gorge, said the decision to oppose the coal project is a huge victory.

“The Columbia River Gorge is a national scenic treasure and should not be used as the nation’s coal chute to Asia,” Lang said.