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Aug. 1, 2021

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Coal company sues state over Millennium coal-export terminal

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SEATTLE — Developers of a massive coal-export terminal proposed on the Columbia River have sued the state of Washington over the project.

Utah-based Lighthouse Resources filed suit in federal court in Tacoma on Wednesday, alleging that state officials violated federal laws in delaying and denying permits for its Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview project.

The $680 million project would move coal mined in U.S. Western states through a terminal in Longview for export to South Korea, Japan and other Asian markets.

Developers want to build three 220-foot docks on 58 acres of state aquatic land already leased by Northwest Alloys.

Millennium currently has one dock and wants to add two new docks, two new ship loaders and an access trestle.

Lighthouse, which operates coal mines in Montana and Wyoming, says the state is actively preventing coal mined in other states from moving in foreign and interstate commerce and in violation of federal law.

The project has faced a series of challenges, including last fall when the state Ecology Department denied the project a key water permit.

That decision was the latest in a string of setbacks for the coal terminal, which has been in the permitting process for six years.

Before it can build its dock, Millennium must win its appeal of the state Department of Ecology’s denial of a key water quality permit.

Millennium must also obtain a total of 23 permits from local, state and federal agencies.

An Ecology spokesman said in a statement that the agency remains confident in denying that permit.

Millennium Bulk Terminals has also sued Washington in state court.

In November, a Cowlitz County judge found that the state was arbitrary and capricious when it denied a sublease needed for a coal dock.

But Millennium will still have to bargain a compromise before it can actually get the sublease.

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