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Lighthouse sues Washington State for denying permit to build coal export terminal in US

EBR Staff Writer Published 04 January 2018

Coal mining company Lighthouse Resources filed a lawsuit in federal court against Washington State for denying a permit to build a coal export terminal.

The firm has sued Washington Governor Jay Inslee and two state regulators for allegedly violating the US Constitution’s Commerce Clause and other federal statutes by refusing permits to export coal through a proposed terminal in Washington State.

Through the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminal, the firm intends to export coal mined in Wyoming, Montana and other western states to clients in Asian countries, including Japan and South Korea.

In the lawsuit filed in US District Court in Tacoma, Washington, Lighthouse Resources alleges that the state regulators unreasonably denied and refused to process permits to redevelop a brownfield site on the Columbia River.

Lighthouse said that an existing Washington state lease already allows coal exports at the site.

Lighthouse Resources president and CEO Everett King said: “It’s no secret that Washington state officials are philosophically opposed to coal.

“But that does not give them legal authority to discriminate against this project and block foreign trade and interstate commerce.”

The firm said it is now seeking, among other things, a court declaration that the state’s denial is unlawful. It is also seeking a court order directing the state to process any and all current and future permit applications.

In September 2017, Washington’s Department of Ecology denied a key water quality permit for the Millennium Coal Terminal, saying that it would have a negative impact on the environment.

The new export facility, if developed, is estimated to help boost annual coal exports in the country by 44 million metric tons as well as increase the US exports annual value by more than $2.5bn.

King added: “This export facility will create U.S. jobs, shrink the U.S. trade deficit, and reduce carbon emissions

“Unfortunately, these benefits will never be realized if Washington state continues to obstruct and block approval of this energy infrastructure project.”

Image: The Lighthouse Resources’ proposed coal export terminal could help boost annual coal exports in the US by 44 million metric tons. Photo: courtesy of dan/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net.