NW coal debate centers on jobs, the future of energy
By Erik Siemers
The Port of St. Helens is one proposed site for a coal terminal that would take coal in from rail cars and load it on to ocean-going vessels.
A trio of coal export operations totaling nearly $1 billion in investment is under proposal along the shores of the Columbia River.
Each is vying to become the nation’s first West Coast-based coal export terminal, promising jobs and economic growth to communities that sorely need it.
But as officials representing the project developers — principally Australian coal firm Ambre Energy and Houston-based pipeline and terminal operator Kinder Morgan — conduct public outreach in coming weeks, they’re expected to come under intense scrutiny.
Many public officials and environmental groups are staunchly opposed to the notion of more coal crossing into Oregon.
“Gov. (John) Kitzhaber is concerned about a range of unanswered questions about the impact of coal exports on consumers, infrastructure and the environment that should be addressed in a comprehensive way by the federal government before proceeding,” Tim Raphael, a spokesman for the Oregon governor, said in a prepared statement. “The governor is exploring his options to engage and will ensure that any project obeys all state and federal laws to protect public health and the environment.”
Projects are distinct
All three projects have distinctions that set them apart:
• Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview — an entity owned 62 percent by Ambre Energy’s U.S. division, and 38 percent by St. Louis-based coal firm Arch Coal Inc. — would invest $600 million to turn a former Alcoa smelter near Longview, Wash., into a private coal export terminal with initial capacity of 25 million metric tons. The project would create 300 full-time jobs and another 2,750 in construction and other indirect positions over two years.
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