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Public comment period for coal terminal extended

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality announced Monday that it is extending the public comment period for a coal export facility in Boardman by another 30 days.

The Coyote Island Terminal would, under Australian company Ambre Energy’s proposal, send 3.5 million tons of coal every year down the Columbia River on enclosed barges to a second proposed facility at the Port Westward Industrial Park, north of Clatskanie.

At Port Westward, which has a deep-water port, the coal would be transloaded onto oceangoing vessels for export.

DEQ’s decision to extend the comment period for the Boardman terminal means that residents now have until 5 p.m. on Aug. 12 to submit their comments on the three draft environmental permits the department has issued.

Those permits are for air quality, stormwater and water quality.

Two pro-environment groups, the Sierra Club and Columbia Riverkeeper, requested the extension of the public comment period on the permits.

Both the Port of St. Helens, which administers Port Westward, and the Port of Morrow stand to gain $850,000 per year in port fees if Ambre Energy goes through with its Morrow Pacific project, according to the Brisbane-based company’s website.

The website also says Columbia County would take in about $787,000 in annual property taxes from Ambre Energy if the project goes through, while Morrow County would receive some $1.61 million per year.