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January 13, 2017
Attorney General Fox Files Brief Supporting Coal Port Expansion
May 9, 2018
HELENA – In a joint amicus brief filed in U.S. Federal Court Tuesday, the states of Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, Kansas and Nebraska present legal arguments supporting a proposed coal port expansion in Washington State.
In September 2017, the State of Washington denied environmental permits necessary for the Millennium Bulk Terminals expansion project located in Longview, Washington. The project, proposed by Utah-based Lighthouse Resources Inc., would increase commodity export capacity, allowing increased shipment of Powder River Basin Coal to expanding Asian markets.
“Politicians in Washington State have again demonstrated their willingness to hold coal states hostage,” Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said. “Governor Inslee has made his ideological opposition to coal abundantly clear over the years, proving pro-coal projects will never get a fair shake by his administration. Fortunately, the law is on our side. I’m working to ensure hard working Montanans are treated fairly under the law.”
Speaking to the case, Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael said,
“Governor Mead and I believe that this case has broad implications for the export of commodities that are important to the economies and people of many states. Our federal system depends on evenhanded access to markets, and we are participating to vindicate Wyoming's right to engage in interstate and international trade.”
In the brief, the states argue the denial of permits by the Inslee administration have little basis in law, and in fact, violate multiple federal laws as well as the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The State of Washington and environmental intervenors moved to block those claims in federal court until state court suits involving the actual permits are completed. Montana, Wyoming and the other states contend that the federal claims are not dependent on the state permitting suits and therefore should move forward.
The federal case is currently in its early stages. If the federal case moves forward, the states will file additional briefs, expounding the legal violations by the State of Washington.
At full build-out, the terminal would be capable of exporting 44 million metric tons of coal. In 2016, Montana mined 32 million metric tons of coal. Montana has an estimated one quarter of the world’s recoverable coal reserves.