Decision delayed on coal export permit
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
A decision from the Oregon Department of State Lands on the permit for the Morrow Pacific coal export facility was delayed last week.
The Morrow Pacific coal export project was set back last week after the Oregon Department of State Lands delayed its decision on a permit until April.
The decision was expected to come in December but the department said last week it would hold off until April. It will open a new public comment period on the project Dec. 1 - Dec. 30.
The project, being developed by Australian coal company Ambre Energy, is considered the furthest along of a number of coal export facilities being proposed in the Pacific Northwest to handle coal trains coming from the Powder River Basin and send the cargo to hungry energy markets in Asia.
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The Morrow Pacific project would unload coal at the Port of Morrow near Boardman, send it by barge to the Port of St. Helens and then load it onto ocean-going vessels.
In September, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers delivered good news for Ambre executives when it said it would study the environmental impacts of just the Morrow Pacific project, rather than a broader probe of the collective impacts of all the proposed coal export facilities.
But the Department of State Lands decision represents a step backward for the project.
“It makes sense for the agency to want all the facts,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, sad in a statement. “The impacts of coal export are unprecedented in our region and there are many unanswered questions.”
Columbia Riverkeeper is part of an organization called Power Past Coal that is working to prevent development of the export facilities citing environmental risks associated with the transport and burning of coal.
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