Oregon coal export permit delayed; company expects to start on time

2013-03-15T07:00:00Z 2013-04-02T18:34:30Z Oregon coal export permit delayed; company expects to start on timeBy ADAM VOGE Star-Tribune energy reporter Casper Star-Tribune Online

The company planning one of two Oregon terminals that could export Wyoming and Montana coal to Asia grudgingly agreed this week to a state suggestion that it seek a delay in a permit deadline for its project.

But company representatives say the overall project timeline won’t be affected.

Ambre Energy, the company behind the Morrow Pacific coal exports project, on Wednesday asked the Oregon Department of State Lands to delay a dock-permitting decision for the project until

Sept. 1. The previous deadline was for the beginning of April.

The company asked for the deadline change in the wake of February requests from the state for more information about the cultural and environmental impacts of the project. But because the project is also contingent on a lengthier U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-run environmental assessment study, the company expects the delay to have little effect on its plan to begin operations in 2014.

“Ambre is committed to the project,” Liz Fuller, a spokeswoman for Morrow Pacific, said. “Nothing about the timeline has changed at this point.”

At least one leading coal trade group also expects the delay to have little effect on Wyoming coal and the greater movement to ship coal out of the northwest.

“Lots of permits get delayed,” said Marion Loomis, executive director of the Wyoming Mining Association. “Hopefully they can provide the information that’s needed and ultimately the permit would be issued.”

The State Lands Department first asked for additional information in early February, in response to a series of critical public

comments about the project. The state then asked for a detailed list of analyses from Ambre, including information about how operations would affect a nearby tribal fishing area and species indigenous to the area.

The company originally rejected the request, saying it had submitted enough information to justify granting a permit. But the state quickly fired back, saying it wouldn’t approve an application without “sufficient information.”

In a March 13 letter addressed to the department, Ambre’s John Thomas wrote back that he still feels his company has supplied the state with adequate information and should receive a removal-fill permit to construct a dock for the facility, but will comply with state demands because the department “has made its intent to deny” the application known if such information isn’t provided.

Fuller said the company’s discussions with the department are “fairly standard.” Ambre is in discussions with the department about which analyses it will provide, but Fuller said the company will “most likely not” produce the full list the state requested.

The company’s lack of

willingness to provide some information has stiffened an already-strong opposition to the project.

“It’s great news to hear that it’s delayed,” Krista Collard, spokeswoman for the Sierra Club and the Power Past Coal Coalition, said. “It’s not really surprising. Ambre Energy basically hasn’t wanted to play by the rules.”

Ambre hopes to eventually ship about 8 million tons of coal per year through the facility, a two-port system that would include barge loading at Port of Morrow, Ore., and ocean vessel loading at a facility at Port of St. Helen’s, Ore. The project would likely be the first of five planned coal terminals to begin operations.

Morrow Pacific is the second terminal in Oregon to make news this month. In early March, two of three investors backed out of the Coos Bay, Ore.-based Project Mainstay project, which was still under feasibility study. The remaining investor, Metro Ports, has another two weeks to find new partners under its exclusive negotiation contract with the port.

Collard said she thinks the news is indicative of coal export terminals losing favor.

“As people and companies get more information, they’re backing away from them,” she said.

Fuller disagreed.

“The project is still looking really viable,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to export coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, which will yield economic benefits to the state and region.”

Reach energy reporter Adam Voge at 307-266-0561, or at adam.voge@trib.com. Read his blog at http://trib.com/news/opinion/blogs/boom or follow him on Twitter @vogeCST.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

No Comments Posted.

Untitled Document

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters.

If your comment was not approved, perhaps...

  1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).

  2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.

  3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.

  4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.

  5. You believe the newspaper's coverage is unfair. It would be better to write the editor at editors@trib.com, or call Editor Jason Adrians at 266-0545 or Content Director David Mayberry at 266-0633. This is a forum for community discussion, not for media criticism. We'd rather address your concerns directly.

  6. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.

  7. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.

  8. Your comment is in really poor taste.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick