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More Delays For The Morrow Pacific Project

Oct. 22, 2013 | Northwest Public Radio
CONTRIBUTED BY:
Courtney Flatt


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  • The permitting process for a coal export terminal has been a back-and-forth debate between state officials and an Australian-based coal company for months now. The permit will be delayed for another six months. credit: Michael Werner
The permitting process for a coal export terminal has been a back-and-forth debate between state officials and an Australian-based coal company for months now. The permit will be delayed for another six months. | credit: Michael Werner | rollover image for more

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The permitting process for a coal export terminal has been a back-and-forth debate between Oregon officials and an Australian-based coal company for months now.

Ambre Energy is hoping to transport coal from the Powder River Basin via rail to the Eastern Oregon town of Boardman. From there, it would barge the coal down the Columbia River and eventually ship it to Asia.

Coal Logo FINAL_a

The company needs a permit from the Oregon Department of State Lands to build a dock at its Boardman site. State officials had previously asked Ambre to further clarify questions about tribal fishing rights, water quality, and the need to export coal. The deadline to answer those questions had been extended to Sept. 1.

The company asked to further extend that deadline to Nov. 1, which the Department of State Lands agreed to do.

Now with the Nov. 1 deadline fast approaching, Ambre has again submitted its responses to the state’s questions. Most of the answers were nearly identical to the company’s previous responses or referred back to them.

You can take a look at all of the correspondence here.

The state responded with a letter on Oct. 16. It again said that Ambre did not fully answer the department’s questions and gave the company three options:

  • Allow the state to (for the sixth time) extend the permit application deadline. This extension would be set for April 30, 2014.

  • Suggest an earlier deadline, if the company thinks the questions can be answered earlier.

  • Go with these answers, and the department will issue a decision next week.

The company chose option No. 1, so the deadline will be extended another six months.

Ambre spokeswoman Liz Fuller said this will not delay the project’s timing. (The company is aiming to be the first coal export terminal built in the Northwest.)

Fuller said to answer some of the department’s latest questions the company needs more information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permitting process.

“A lot of what they want, we won’t be able to get it to them until we hear from the Corps,” Fuller said.

She said that list includes tribal consultation and the biological opinion, a draft plan for protecting endangered salmon and steelhead.

As EarthFix has previously reported:

The permit is a removal-fill permit that would cover the construction of an elevated dock, a coal conveyor system and nine multi-pile structures, known as dolphins, that would be used for mooring the barges.

(Hover over markers to hear reports on coal in communities of the Northwest. Then click “website” for more EarthFix coverage. Click here for larger map view. Note: Train routes are approximations. They illustrate potential corridors based on existing lines and publicly available information.)

— Courtney Flatt

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