Proposal for Boardman coal terminal goes ahead

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldMay 9, 2013 

The cancellation of plans to build a coal export terminal near Clatskanie, Ore., along the Columbia River should not affect the proposed coal terminal in Boardman.

Ambre Energy's plans for the Coyote Island Terminal include barging the coal from the Port of Morrow to the Port of St. Helens so it can be transferred to ships headed to Asia.

The Clatskanie proposal was a separate proposal, officials said.

Ambre Energy plans to build the Coyote Island Terminal at the Port of Morrow to transfer up to 8 million metric tons of coal annually from trains to temporary storage and barges.

A December meeting held in Boardman about the project drew about 260 people, and was split mostly between locals who supported the project and environmentalists from elsewhere in the state.

Morrow County is expected to benefit economically from the project, with about 35 family wage jobs being added. The company also will pay $850,000 in annual port fees to the Port of Morrow and about $1.6 million in property taxes to Morrow County, according to a report by the company.

Ambre Energy also has pledged to voluntarily give $300,000 to $800,000 each year to Morrow County schools once operations begin, according to the report.

Ambre Energy has applied for a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers for the proposed coal transfer facility.

Scott Clemans, public affairs specialist for the Portland District for the Army Corps of Engineers, said the Corps still is waiting for responses from the tribes, the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. There is no estimate on how long the consultation process on the proposed dock could take, he said.

While the project is not complex, it has been controversial, Clemans said. The Corps received more than 30,000 public comments during a 60-day comment period after the permit application was received last year. Among those commenting were federal, state and local officials, and interest groups.

If no potentially significant impacts to the environment are found, the Corps will document its findings in an environmental assessment before determining whether to grant the permit, Clemans said.

Ambre Energy also has applied to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for an air quality permit and a wastewater permit for the proposed Boardman terminal.

Coal trains will be the topic of discussion at the upcoming Badger Club forum from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 31 at the Richland Red Lion.

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