On February 11 Ambre Energy received three permits for its proposed coal export terminal in Oregon, clearing a key hurdle. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued permits for air quality, water quality, and storm water. Ambre’s terminal would be constructed in Boardman, Oregon, along the Columbia River. Barges would carry coal down the river and transfer the coal to container ships. If completed, the terminal would connect coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana to Asian markets, with a capacity to ship 8.8 million tons of coal per year.
The project is not a certainty at this point, with more permits pending. In fact, the Oregon DEQ is requiring Ambre to obtain a permit that goes above and beyond the normal process. The additional permit will scrutinize the potential pollution of the Columbia River from the export terminal. So although the three approved permits were welcomed by Ambre Energy, the additional environmental review is another unexpected hurdle for the company, and a victory for conservation groups.
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The approval comes as other coal export terminals on the West Coast are being delayed or dropped all together. Just last year, Kinder Morgan scrapped its proposed coal export facility at St. Helens. Also, the Port of Coos Bay, which would have had the ability of shipping 11 million tons of coal annually, was cancelled. Ambre Energy’s project at Boardman is one of three remaining projects still in the works, out of an original six. Local opposition has contributed to the failure of these terminals to get off the ground, and opponents of coal exports scored a victory in Washington state last November, electing several anti-coal officials to local office. Al-Jazeera wrote last month about how coal companies, facing stiff opposition in the Pacific Northwest, are turning to the Gulf of Mexico as their next best outlet.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com