Arch coal invests in first west coast coal port

Laramie, Wyo. – Arch Coal, which owns two large mines in Wyoming, has bought a stake in a Washington State port company. And that port company is planning a facility that could ship five million tons of coal per year to markets in Asia.

This would be the first West Coast port for coal in the United States. Arch Coal announced the purchase this week. Spokeswoman Kim Link says there's money to be made by sending coal across the ocean, given current price levels. "We could see a growing need for US coal exports, there was a growing international demand for US coal and we wanted to have a direct state for participating in that growth potential," she said.

Work on the port has not yet started, and a number of environmental groups are contesting the project based on the greenhouse gas emissions associated with burning coal. Still, Link says the port could be operational as soon as next year. The coal would move from Wyoming to the Washington coast on existing rail lines.