Oregon agency extends comment on coal export permits

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) said July 1 that it has extended the public comment for review of the draft permits for the proposed Coyote Island Terminal LLC coal export project at the Port of Morrow in Boardman.

The 30-day extension means residents now have until Aug. 12 to submit comments on the three draft permits DEQ has issued for the project. The Sierra Club and Columbia Riverkeeper, avowed opponents of any coal export projects in the region, requested the extension.

The DEQ is considering three separate permits requested by parent company Ambre Energy for the proposed facility, including air quality, stormwater and water quality permits.

The extension does not affect the two public hearings on the project, which are scheduled on July 9.

Coyote Island Terminal proposes to operate a coal transfer station where up to 8.8 million tons per year of sub-bituminous coal would arrive by railcar and be transferred to barges on the Columbia River.

This is one a handful of coal export projects proposed in Washington state and Oregon that have incited a major backlash from national and state environmental groups, and some local citizens. Other local residents see these projects as good job creation venues.

Australia-based Ambre said on its website that the barges of coal loaded at the Coyote Island facility will move to the Port Westward Industrial Park for transloading to ship. It said that Stage 1 of this project, called the Morrow Pacific project, covers 3.5 million tonnes per year and that Stage 2 covers 8 million tonnes per year of coal handling.

“At the publicly owned Port of Morrow located 272 miles up the Columbia River near Boardman, Oregon, a wholly owned Ambre Energy subsidiary will construct Coyote Island Terminal,” said the Ambre website. “The terminal will be capable of unloading coal from incoming trains using the Port of Morrow’s existing rail loop. The coal will be stored in covered warehouses before being barged 219 miles downriver to a second site at Port Westward.”

Union Pacific rail line, also historically used by the BNSF Railway, provides the Port of Morrow with a direct rail link to coal mines in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah, including Ambre’s mining operations at Decker in Montana and Black Butte in Wyoming, the website noted.

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.