Skip to main content

US coal export terminal clears hurdle

World Coal,

Three permits have been awarded to Ambre Energy for its proposed Morrow Pacific project, which would see the construction of a coal export terminal at Coyote Island in Oregon. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued permits for air quality, water quality and storm water, thereby clearing a hurdle for the terminal and paving the way for further progress to be made.

Ambre’s terminal would be built in Boardman, Oregon, along the Columbia River. Barges would carry coal down the river and transfer coal to waiting container ships. If completed, the terminal would connect coal from the Powder River Basin (PRB) in Wyoming and Montana to Asian markets, with the capacity to ship 8.8 million tpa of coal.

“By issuing these three permits after a rigorous process, the DEQ has affirmed the project complies with environmental rules and regulations of the state of Oregon,” Clark Moseley, CEO of the Morrow Pacific project, said.

The project is still waiting to hear news of other permits that are currently pending.

The project is currently seeking permits from the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Oregon Department of State Lands, and is projected to be operational by the beginning of 2015. The Army Corps has indicated a permitting decision will be forthcoming in the spring of 2014.

The DEQ has already issued a statement to Ambre requiring the company to obtain a permit that goes above and beyond normal process. The additional permit will scrutinize the potential pollution of the Columbia River from the export terminal. While Ambre Energy has welcomed the approval of the first three permits, the new requirement is an unexpected hurdle that has been claimed as a victory by some conservation groups.

Other coal export terminals on the West Coast of the US have recently been delayed or scrapped. Kinder Morgan dropped its proposed coal export facility at St. Helens, while the Port of Coos Bay, which would have shipped 11 million tpa of coal, has also been cancelled. Ambre Energy’s Morrow Pacific project at Boardman is one of three remaining projects out of an original six.

“As we’ve said all along, we are committed to meeting the high environmental standards set by the state of Oregon,” Moseley said. “We are committed to doing business the Oregon way, and working with local companies to strengthen our economy. We’re ready to start work just as soon as we receive permits.”

Millennium Bulk Terminals project

Another coal export terminal that Ambre Energy has an interest in – along with Arch Coal – has also been hit by new permit requirements.  As with the Morrow Pacific Project, the DEQ has said the Millennium Bulk Terminals project will also require an environmental review.

Opponents to the Millennium Bulk Terminals project has said the decision ensures that concerns over coal dust, greenhouse gas emissions and rail traffic are addressed.

“It’s appropriate for such a [large scale] project,” Said Brett Vanden Heuvel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper. “It’s encouraging to see the agencies take to heart the public interest in protecting communities.”

The review of the US$ 650 million project would consider impacts that extend beyond the terminal site itself, including global-warming effects from burning exported coal in Asia and rail impacts as coal is shipped by train throughout the state.

Some national and local business and labour groups have criticised the broad scope of the new permit requirement, saying “cradle to grave” permitting is not justified and would have a chilling effect on trade and economic development.

The Millennium Bulk Terminals project would handle up to 44 million tpa of coal from the PRB at a terminal near Longview. 

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

Read the article online at:

You might also like


Embed article link: (copy the HTML code below):