Proposed U.S. Northwest coal export project scrapped

SALEM, Ore., May 10 (UPI) -- Kinder Morgan has shelved plans for a $200 million coal export terminal on the Columbia River in northern Oregon that would have exported up to 30 million tons of U.S. coal to Asia each year.

The company's decision means three of the six coal export terminals proposed in Oregon and Washington have either been shelved or are off the table. Together, the scrapped projects represent up to $550 million in investments and nearly 50 million tons of Montana and Wyoming coal destined for Asian ports.


Allen Fore, spokesman for Houston company Kinder Morgan, a terminal and pipeline operator, said an 18-month review of the logistics of the site concluded that it wouldn't accommodate the project as expected.

"We concluded our analysis and determined that we could not find a location on that particular footprint that would be compatible with the facility that we needed to construct," he told the Los Angeles Times.

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The project faced opposition from environmentalists and locals concerned about coal dust and diesel pollution.

Conservation groups also argued that it doesn't make sense environmentally for the nation's utilities to cut on coal in favor of cleaner natural gas and renewables while providing fuel to coal-fired power plants in Asia.


Kinder Morgan had said on its website that the terminal design would incorporate "best control technology" that will minimize or eliminate environmental impact to air, land and water.

"This is another huge victory for the people of Oregon and another blow to the coal companies," said Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director for Columbia Riverkeeper in a statement.

"The evidence is in that dirty coal export plans are not viable in the Pacific Northwest. Now families across the Northwest can breathe easier knowing that the largest coal export terminal proposed in the state of Oregon is off the table."

The organization in its blog attributed the decision to Kinder "caving under the pressure of overwhelming public opposition."

Fore said Kinder Morgan is looking for other coal export sites in the Northwest.

"We're a customer-driven company, and when our customers have an interest, as they currently have in a facility on the West Coast, we're going to explore opportunities for that," he said.

Three terminals are still under consideration, The Oregonian reports: Gateway Pacific near Bellingham, Wash., at up to 52.9 million tons a year; Millennium Bulk Terminals in Longview, Wash., up to 48.5 million tons; and Ambre Energy's Morrow Pacific Project in Boardman, Ore., up to 8.8 million tons.


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