A long-awaited decision by the Oregon Department of Lands on a dredge-and-fill permit for Ambre Energy’s Morrow Pacific project was delivered late Monday afternoon.


Without the permit, the company cannot move forward with plans to build a coal dock that would move 8.8 million tons of coal a year from the Powder River Basin to Asia.

(Update, 9/17/14: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is no longer reviewing this export terminal project, given the State of Oregon’s denial of the state permit.)

This is good news for folks in North Idaho: it means about four fewer coal trains a day in our future-and that’s fewer delays at railroad crossings, less coal dust in our air and less CO2 emissions in our atmosphere (equal to the emissions of 3.6 million cars annually).

Idahoans should thank Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber for his careful review of this project and its impacts both locally and globally. While Ambre could appeal or litigate this decision, and other permits are still in play, this is a huge setback.

Opponents of the project argued that the project didn’t meet the state’s environmental requirements. The state agreed, saying that the project “is not consistent with the protection, conservation and best use of the state’s water resources.”

Sadly, neither the state nor the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has had to address the potential effects of these coal exports on communities in North Idaho.

The Morrow Pacific project in Boardman, Ore., is the smallest of three major coal export terminals proposed for the Northwest currently undergoing environmental review. The other two are still in play in Longview and Bellingham, Wash., which together would generate some 40 trains a day rumbling through North Idaho towns.

While Washington state is looking at the impacts of coal transport in Washington communities, residents in Idaho still lack a voice in the process.

We will be delivering a petition this month to our congressional delegation, asking them to look out for Idaho’s interests as these other terminal projects move forward.