A Cowlitz County judge will decide this month whether three environmental groups can intervene in a lawsuit brought against the state by developers of a coal export terminal in southwest Washington.
Millennium Bulk Terminals and Northwest Alloys last month appealed the state’s denial of an aquatic lands lease for the project. The company wants to build a dock at the site, which would be a critical factor in the terminal ultimately getting built at the site of the former Reynolds Metals Co. aluminum plant.
Before leaving office, Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark rejected a request from Northwest Alloys to sublease state aquatic lands to Millennium for the coal-export project. The companies have said the decision infringes on their property rights.
Current Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz, who replaced Goldmark in January, has said she opposes using state land for fossil fuel projects and is unlikely to reverse Goldmark’s decision.
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The Daily News in Longview reports that Columbia Riverkeeper, Sierra Club and Washington Environmental Council want to join the state’s side and defend the sublease denial.
The proposed terminal in Longview is estimated to export 48 million tons a year to Asia, create 1,000 construction jobs and 130 permanent jobs, and generate millions of dollars in taxes annually.
The coal would arrive by train from Montana, Wyoming and other states to be stored and loaded on ships for export to Asia.
A proposed coal export terminal project in Whatcom County was quashed after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied a critical permit last May 9. The Corps ruled the project would impact the treaty-protected fishing rights of Lummi Nation based on the fact that the proposed trestle and associated wharf would take up 122 acres over water.
That move was soon followed by Goldmark denying project owner SSA Marine’s application for an aquatic land lease from the state Department of Natural Resources.
The Gateway Pacific Terminal, a proposed $600 million facility at Cherry Point, would have exported about 48 million tons a year of coal mined in western states to Pacific Rim markets, proponents said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.