Columbia Riverkeeper and other environmental groups have filed for legal status to defend Oregon's denial of a key permit for the proposed coal export facility at Boardman.
Ambre Energy, the Port of Morrow and the state of Wyoming appealed the denial, but the Oregon Department of State Lands has denied Wyoming's standing to appeal.
Earthjustice and the Crag Law Center are representing Columbia Riverkeeper, along with Friends of the Columbia Gorge and the Sierra Club as intervenors in the case.
Ambre has proposed transporting 8.8 million tons of coal by rail to the Columbia River at Boardman, where it would be loaded onto barges that would travel down the river.
The project would have doubled barge traffic on the Columbia River, according to the environmental groups.
"Oregonians and Northwest residents have spoken load and clear: We oppose shipping hazardous coal through Oregon and along the Columbia River," said Brett VandenHeuvel of Columbia Riverkeeper. "We're prepared to defend the state's decision to uphold laws that protect what we as Oregonians hold dear, clean water and fishable rivers."
The Port of Morrow said it must be able to enter into leases for development of its land without the state unduly interfering with its economic decisions. Ambre Energy accused the state of denying the permit because Oregon does not politically support coal, rather than for environmental reasons.