Energy company drops St. Helens coal terminal plans

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Proposed Montana coal mine deal stalls

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A proposed deal on a Montana coal mine that its backers had said would boost Asian exports of the fuel via the West Coast has stalled.

Court documents show Cloud Peak Energy and Australia-based Ambre Energy are renegotiating the terms of a deal that called for Ambre to pay $57 million for full control of the Decker mine near the Wyoming border.

Ambre wants to ramp up production and ship coal to growing Asian markets through a pair of proposed ports along the Columbia River. The company faces stiff opposition in Oregon and Washington.

Cloud Peak is seeking land and rail easements for a new Wyoming mine, and the option to move 5 million tons of coal annually through Ambre’s Millennium port in Longview.

PORTLAND — An energy company has dropped plans for a coal export terminal downstream of Portland along the Columbia River and will look for another site in the Northwest, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Kinder Morgan Inc. decided not to seek permits at the Port of St. Helens industrial park in Oregon because of the site’s logistics, not because the debate over coal exports from the Pacific Northwest to Asia, said spokesman Allen Fore.

“We looked at multiple options and different footprints, but we couldn’t find one compatible with the facility we wanted to construct,” Fore told The Oregonian newspaper.

The decision leaves three other coal export proposals still under consideration in the Northwest: near Bellingham and at Longview in Washington and at Boardman in Oregon.

Two partners recently dropped out of a coal export proposal at Coos Bay along the Oregon Coast, and a proposal at Grays Harbor was shelved.

The terminal at the Port of St. Helens would have taken up to 30 million tons of coal a year hauled by trains from mines in Wyoming and Montana. Kinder Morgan said its investment of $150 million to $200 million would have created 80 permanent jobs at the terminal.

The leader of an environmental group said the company faced “tremendous regional and local opposition,” citing a turnout of opponents for a recent rezoning meeting and a resolution expressing concerns from a nearby city, Scappoose.

“To say that it’s a matter of site logistics is questionable,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper.

Fore wouldn’t name other sites the company could consider.

“We’re a customer-driven company,” he said, “and our customers are still looking at options in Pacific Northwest.”