Critics take shots at Ambre coal export project in Oregon

Ambre Energy, an Australian company with coal mining interests in Wyoming and Montana, still faces entrenched environmental opposition to a coal export project in Oregon.

The company has applied for several permits to build a coal export facility at the Port of Morrow near Boardman, Ore. Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) held on July 9 public hearings in Portland and Hermiston regarding a pending air permit for the proposed Port of Morrow coal export terminal. In addition to voicing their concerns with DEQ during the hearings, many also participated in an outside “people’s hearing,” said the Sierra Club in a July 9 statement.

“In December, we had to sit in front of this same agency and listen as they told us that concern after concern would not be considered as part of their permit issuance,” said Kate McBride, Hood River City Councilor. “At one point, I raised the question about the plans to fight a coal barge fire if one were to occur on the Columbia River. I was told that the plan was to ‘let it burn.'”

With the Gateway Pacific export terminal proposal near Bellingham, Wash., and the Millennium Bulk proposal near Longview, Wash., going through their own multi-agency studies mandated by the state of Washington, the Morrow Pacific project is the only proposal to not receive a site-specific Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the club said.

The Coyote Island Terminal is proposed by Ambre Energy at the Port of Morrow in Boardman. Ambre would bring up to 8.8 million tons of coal a year by train from Montana and/or Wyoming to Boardman. The company would store the coal in covered storage buildings at the Port of Morrow before transferring it to barges using an enclosed conveyor system. The barges would then take the coal down the Columbia River to Port Westward in Clatskanie, where crews would transfer it onto ocean-going ships bound for Asia. In addition to other federal and state permits, Ambre Energy has requested three draft permits from DEQ. These are permits for air quality, storm water and water quality.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.