Riverkeeper to Army Corps: Give us the coal documents
By Erik Siemers
Columbia Riverkeeper is going to court to compel the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to produce requested documents related to its decision to conduct a less rigorous review of the proposed Morrow Pacific coal export facility near Boardman.
Environmental watchdog group Columbia Riverkeeper claims the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is improperly withholding documents related to a proposed coal export terminal. Now it wants to go to court to get them.
In a news release Monday, Riverkeeper Executive Director Brett VandenHeuvel said the Hood River-based organization on Nov. 2 sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Corps seeking information on the agency's decision to prepare a less rigorous review of the proposed Morrow Pacific coal export terminal.
Almost 10 months later, Riverkeeper still hasn't received all of the requested documents from the Corps. Now it's asking the U.S. District Court of Oregon to compel the Corps to produce the documents.
Scott Clemans, a spokesman for the Army Corp's Portland division, said the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation.
The $250 million Morrow Pacific project, proposed by Australian coal developer Ambre Energy, calls for shipping coal via train from Montana and Wyoming to a facility near Boardman where it would be loaded onto barges. The barges would then carry the coal down the Columbia River to a facility at Port Westward, near Clatskanie, that would transfer the coal to ocean-going ships for transport overseas.
The project, much like other proposed coal export terminals peppering the Northwest, has been controversial from the get-go. Opponents fear the environmental impact from coal dust, increased coal train congestion, and the broader message of supporting any endeavor that enables pollution such as is caused by coal-fired power plants.
Ambre, though, has argued that the project will be a job creator with an estimated $400 million impact on the regional economy.
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