Washington Denies Coal Terminal

Sep 27, 2017

Credit Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

Washington rejected a key permit for the proposed Millennium Bulk coal terminal Tuesday. The terminal would have allowed coal from Wyoming and Montana to more easily reach other countries like China and Japan.

The Washington Department of Ecology rejected the terminal based on environmental impacts that came from the transportation and storage of coal.  

“After extensive study and deliberation, I am denying Millennium’s proposed coal export project,” Ecology Director Maia Bellon said in a statement. “There are simply too many unavoidable and negative environmental impacts for the project to move forward.”

Millennium has been working on the terminal's approval for nearly six years. If approved, it was expected to help the coal industry by providing a new revenue stream as U.S. coal use is in decline.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead released a statement saying he was “disappointed” by the decision. Mead was in Gillette last week talking with Japanese officials about the partnership between Wyoming and Japan. The two are working on technologies to reduce carbon emissions from coal and on exports of Powder River Basin coal to Japan.

“Wyoming is working to partner with other countries to develop solutions and stopping coal exports sends the wrong message,” Mead said. “Washington, Wyoming and the United States can financially benefit from the sale and export of a proven, reliable energy source. The benefit includes additional funds available for research and development.”

Both Mead and Wyoming Senator John Barrasso hope the terminal moves ahead anyway, which it could through an appeal.

“The Millennial Bulk Terminal project is a critical opportunity to export Wyoming coal to overseas markets,” Barrasso said in a statement. “While today’s decision is a temporary setback, I am hopeful that it will be successfully appealed.”

At the same time, environmental groups like Power Past Coal are applauding the move.

“The state did the right thing today, standing up for clean water, public health, and the Pacific Northwest’s iconic endangered salmon runs,” Power Past Coal Co-Director Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky said in a statement.

Millennium said it will appeal the decision, “expecting a fairer and more consistent interpretation of the law.”