Friday, September 29, 2017

Washington state denies key permit for terminal that would help export U.S. coal to Asia

"Washington state on Tuesday rejected a key permit needed for a proposed terminal to export coal to Asia, another blow to companies eager to sell Wyoming and Montana coal to Asian markets and to the Trump administration’s policy of global energy dominance," Valerie Volcovici reports for Reuters.

The state Department of Ecology denied Millennium Bulk Terminals the water-quality permit because the project would cause environmental harm in nine important areas: air quality, vehicle traffic, vessel traffic, rail capacity, rail safety, noise pollution, social and community resources, cultural resources, and tribal resources. "The coal terminal also would have increased diesel pollution, a toxic air pollutant, and caused an unavoidable increase in cancer risk rates in a neighborhood along the rail line in Longview," said Department of Ecology spokesperson David Bennett in a press release.

"It is the last of six proposed coal terminals in the Pacific Northwest that have been denied approval by state regulators or the Army Corps of Engineers amid opposition from states and the Lummi Tribe, who argued that coal terminals interfered with their fishing rights," Volcovici reports.

The proposed export terminal would be the largest in the United States, exporting up to 44 million tons of Powder River Basin coal each year. The terminal would give coal companies a domestic alternative to exporting coal from the Westshore Terminal in Vancouver, British Columbia. That could be important, since British Columbia has threatened to stop exporting U.S. coal through Canada, following a trade disagreement over softwood exports.

"U.S. coal exports have jumped more than 60 percent this year because of soaring demand from Europe and Asia, according to a Reuters review of government data in the first half of the year," Volcovici reports. "Some analysts say the trend may be temporary, depending on coal price trends in Asia." Approving the terminal would bolster President Trump's goal of turning the U.S. into an "energy dominant" nation by exporting domestically produced energy.

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