Kinder Morgan: St. Helens decision stemmed from space, not protests

Kinder Morgan officials said they'll continue to look for Northwest coal terminal sites.

Kinder Morgan officials said they'll continue to look for Northwest coal terminal sites.

A Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP representative said this morning that Oregon's state and federal elected officials never voiced opposition to the company's now-shelved St. Helens coal facility plans.

Allen Fore added that his company's decision to not build a coal storage terminal at the Port of St. Helens relates "100 percent to logistics" as opposed to concerns over the coal medium in general. Plus, the company was still technically in a "due diligence" phase for the Port Westward project, as opposed to in a full build-out phase.

Kinder Morgan (NYSE: KMP) revealed Wednesday it would forego plans to build a $500 million facility that would store and transfer coal.

"We never applied for a single permit and never made the decision to move forward other than to site a facility at Port Westward," said Fore. "Before we buy or purchase a terminal, we do a lot of due diligence to see whether it works for our company and our systems."

Fore noted that Portland General Electric Co. has a big footprint at Port Westward. He suggested that concerns of PGE, which noted last year that the possibility that coal dust might land near its facilities could hamper its energy transmission efforts, put restrictions on the 10-acre site.

Coal opponents had claimed victory after word broke yesterday of Kinder Morgan's decision.

"This 100 percent has to do with logistics," said Fore. "We certainly recognize there are folks opposed to coal, and they won't be supportive of anything to do with coal.

"But not a single elected official, from (Oregon) Gov. (John) Kitzhaber to the commissioners of Columbia County to (Rep.) Suzanne Bonamici to the two Oregon U.S. senators (Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden) opposed this project."

Kinder Morgan will continue to seek possible coal terminal sites in the Northwest, said Fore. It is also undergoing a large expansion of its Port of Portland soda ash export facility.

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