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DEQ prepares draft permit for coal export project

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has released a draft “401” water quality certification for the proposed Coyote Island coal terminal in Boardman. The certification, if ultimately granted by the DEQ, is a key remaining hurdle for Ambre Energy’s proposal to barge 8 million tons of coal per year through the Columbia River Gorge.

DEQ says the permit is designed to regulate discharge of pollutants into the Columbia River during construction and operation of the Coyote Island Coal Terminal.

In a $242 million project, Ambre proposes to haul coal by rail from Wyoming and Montana to Boardman, then transfer it to barges at Coyote Point. The coal would be barged through the Columbia River Gorge to Port Westward Industrial Park near St. Helens. From there it would be loaded onto an oceangoing ship bound for Asia.

DEQ is holding a public hearing on the draft certificate on Tuesday, Aug. 12, at 6 p.m., in Boardman, at the Port of Morrow’s River Front Conference Room. The state agency also will take testimony at the hearing, as well as written testimony until Aug. 25.

Liz Fuller, a spokeswoman for Ambre, says the company agrees with DEQ's findings in its proposed draft certificate.

Dan Serres, conservation director for Columbia Riverkeeper, says if DEQ issues the certificate it would represent a “missed opportunity” for the state to take an over-arching look at the environmental impact of Ambre’s coal export proposal.

DEQ earlier issued three permits to Ambre for the project. The 401 certificate is the fourth in a series of six regulatory approvals that Ambre needs for its project, which is the furthest along of three proposed Northwest coal export facilities.

Ambre also needs permits from the Department of State Lands and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

For more on DEQ’s hearing: bit.ly/1lTvIYb.

Steve Law can be reached at 503-546-5139 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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