Army Corps decision could expedite Morrow Pacific coal project
By Erik Siemers
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Portland division said will only conduct an environmental assessment of Ambre Energy's Morrow Pacific coal export terminal.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Portland division said it will only conduct an environmental assessment of Ambre Energy's Morrow Pacific coal export terminal proposed near Boardman and not the more exhaustive environmental impact statement.
The decision could be the difference between months and years of delay for the Australian coal company, which hopes to have its $250 million handling Asia-bound coal shipments by mid-2014, if not sooner.
An environmental assessment process is typically measured in months, while the EIS process threatened to add years to the project, which is seeking a permit from the Corps to build a new dock and terminal along the Columbia River at the Port of Morrow near Boardman.
The Corps, though, reserved the right to broaden the scope of its environmental review to an EIS at a later point.
“But for right now, we’re focusing on the direct, indirect and cumulative effects of the (project’s) construction activity,” said Scott Clemans, a spokesman for the Corps’ Portland district.
The Morrow Pacific Project calls for taking coal by rail to a new terminal at the Port of Morrow, where it will be transferred to covered barges and shipped downriver to a facility at the Port of St. Helens for loading onto ocean-going ships.
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It is one of five coal export terminals proposed in Oregon and Washington. Already, the Corps' Seattle office has opted to pursue the full EIS process for two terminal proposals in Washington: The Gateway Pacific Terminal near Bellingham and Ambre’s Millennium Bulk Terminals proposed near Longview.
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