When the Oregon Department of State Lands denied Ambre Energy’s permit application for a coal terminal near Boardman in August, Crag and its allies in the Power Past Coal coalition were thrilled. The permit would have allowed the construction of a dock in the Columbia River to transfer coal off of trains from Wyoming and Montana onto barges to head downriver to Port Westward, near Clatskanie. At Port Westward, the coal would be transferred from the barges onto ocean-going ships for transport to Asia.
In denying the permit, the agency explained that after intensive review, it had determined that the project was not consistent with the protection, conservation, and best use of the state’s water resources. The agency also found that Ambre had not done enough to find alternatives that would not interfere with tribal fisheries. The State’s message was heard loud and clear. Soon after the decision was released, the Army Corps of Engineers put the brakes on its review of a parallel federal permit for the project.
Unsurprisingly, Ambre Energy, the Australian Company behind the project, and the Port of Morrow, which would be the host of the export transfer facility, both appealed the Department of State Lands’ decision. Less expected was the appeal by the State of Wyoming. Wyoming argued that Oregon’s decision violated the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. This week, the Department of State Lands rejected Wyoming’s appeal, finding that the state did not have standing to appeal. In other words, Oregon found that Wyoming had not shown that it participated in the permit review process or shown an interest that would be affected by the permit decision. The State will continue to process the applicant and the port’s appeals of the decision. Stay tuned!