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Ambre Energy and the Port of Morrow in Boardman both filed appeals Monday against the state Department of State Lands decision rejecting a permit for Ambre’s coal export facility at the port.


“As the second largest port in the state of Oregon, the Port of Morrow must be able to enter into leases for development of its lands without the state unduly interfering with the Port of Morrow’s economic decisions,” the port wrote in its appeal, which will be held before a state administrative law judge.

The port noted it has invested more than that $50 million in infrastructure to support the Port of Morrow East Beach Industrial Park. That project is slated to include five docks – including the Coyote Island Terminal that would be used by Ambre to transfer Powder River coal from trains onto barges headed through the Columbia River Gorge.

“The dock is slated to be constructed in an area specifically set aside by the United States Army Corps of Engineers for port industrial development, and will not interfere with fishing,” the port wrote in its appeal. “With this decision, the state of Oregon has sent the clear message that it does not support the Port of Morrow in these endeavors . . . “

In a prepared statement, an Ambre executive based in the U.S. said the DSL decision was politicized.

“It's pretty clear the politics of coal overshadowed this process from the beginning,” stated Everett King, executive director, president and CEO of Ambre Energy North America, a unit of the Australian-based company.

The port’s general manager, Gary Neal, also called the state permit denial a “political decision” in the release.

The state of Wyoming also appealed the decision.

“Ambre’s appeal is a last-minute and desperate attempt to just keep hanging on. Coal is too dirty and would degrade our salmon economy,” stated Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, in a written response to the appeal.

Environmentalists fear that exporting Powder River coal to China and other Asian customers will exacerbate climate change and justify the construction of a new generation of coal-burning power plants. Gov. John Kitzhaber has come out against exporting coal, prompting criticism that the issue has been politicize

  

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