Wyoming fights export terminal ban

THE state of Wyoming, the United States’ top coal producer, has upped the ante to pressure Oregon to permit a coal terminal on the Columbia River that could allow coal exports to Asia, claiming jobs and state revenue are at stake.

Anthony Barich

Wyoming is anxious to reach Asian markets with new federal air quality rules reducing demand from domestic coal-fired power plants.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead announced last week the state had filed a petition to the Oregon office of Administrative Hearings to participate as a party for the Coyote Island coal port contested case after Oregon’s Department of Land denied Coyote Terminal a permit to place concrete pilings in the Columbia River at the Port of Morrow.

Mead’s office said this decision shut down the possibility of building a coal terminal.

“This decision by the Oregon Department of Lands to deny the permit to complete this terminal is a barrier to getting Wyoming coal to foreign markets,” Mead said.

“Wyoming would lose out on coal tax revenues of $US9-30 million per year. Revenue from coal funds public programs such as schools and infrastructure.

“A strong coal industry means thousands of direct and indirect jobs. Coal is vital here and Wyoming must assure it has a long future.”

Wyoming argued that Oregon cannot disrupt interstate and foreign commerce to the disadvantage of Wyoming and other landlocked states.

“The Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution prohibits Oregon from stopping the flow of a commodity in interstate and foreign commerce, and federal law pre-empts Oregon's ability to regulate this kind of docking structure,” Mead said.

If granted “party” status, Wyoming intends to fully participate and present information showing that the Oregon Department of State Lands decision was “legally and factually wrong”

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