Coyote Island Terminal

From Global Energy Monitor

Coyote Island Terminal was a coal export project proposed by Ambre Energy at the Port of Morrow in Boardman, Oregon. The coal would be stored at Coyote Island and then barged to Port Westward's Industrial Park for transloading to Asia. Stage 1 involves 3.5 million metric tons of coal per year, and Stage 2 a total of 8 million metric tons per year.[1]

In August 2014 the state of Oregon turned down a critical permit, dealing a serious blow to the project.[2][3] In November 2014, project sponsor Ambre Energy sold its US subsidiary to the US private equity firm, Resource Capital Funds (RCF).[4] In April 2015 Ambre Energy North America changed its name to Lighthouse Resources, and formally dropped out of the Coyote Island project in October 2016. The Port of Morrow continued to pursue the coal terminal,[5] but withdrew its application in November 2016.[6]

The Coyote Island Terminal is one of nine proposed coal terminals in the Pacific Northwest that has been cancelled since 2010.


The Port of Morrow is the port authority in Boardman, a city in Morrow County, on the Columbia River.

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Project proposal

Ambre Energy plans for Coyote Island Terminal to be constructed at the Port of Morrow for coal storage and barge loading. The coal will then be barged to Port Westward's Industrial Park for transloading to Asia. Stage 1 involves 3.5 million metric tons of coal per year, and Stage 2 a total of 8 million metric tons per year.[7]

Ambre Energy said it hopes to ship unit trains of coal to the port from the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming. The typical coal train is 100 to 120 cars long — a mile of coal. Each hopper car holds 100 to 115 tons of coal, which lasts just 20 minutes fueling a power plant.[8]


Coal terminal approval

On May 11, 2011, the Port of Morrow Commission approved a one-year lease option with Coyote Island Terminal LLC of Salt Lake City, Utah, to build a rail off-loading coal terminal on up to 24.26 acres to transfer the coal onto barges for shipment to the Millennium Bulk Logistics Longview Terminal in Washington, and on to customers in Asia. Millennium and Coyote Island Terminal are owned by Ambre Energy, a closely held mining company based in Brisbane, Australia.

Coal Export Threatens the Northwest.

Michael Klein and Everett King of Ambre Energy North America Inc. met with commissioners in a closed session right before the board unanimously approved the lease option. It calls for Coyote Island Terminal, a subsidiary of Ambre Energy, to pay the port $60,745 during the next year to secure the option. Klein said his company will use the next year to investigate what it can do with the site, saying the project is in a very early stage, so how much coal the company might ship and to what destinations are still to be determined. Ambre Energy’s website states: “It is Ambre Energy’s intention to establish one of the few coal export facilities on the west coast of North America to provide access to growing Asia-Pacific markets for U.S. thermal coal.”

Critics of the proposed coal shipping barge state that they are concerned about coal dust spillage from the railways as the coal is transported from the mine to the port.[9]

EPA: coal export projects could have 'significant' public health impacts

In April 2012 the EPA stated that they desired a thorough review of the consequences of coal export through Northwest ports, staying the first project in the pipeline -- at the Port of Morrow -- "has the potential to significantly impact human health and the environment." The EPA's letter to the Army Corps of Engineers stated they wanted a "thorough and broadly scoped" environmental review. Potential problems include health impacts from coal dust and diesel emissions on train and barge trips through the Columbia River Gorge and the effects of ozone, particulates and mercury returning on trade winds after coal is burned in Asia.[10]

Permit applications

It was announced in July 2012 that Ambre Energy was required to obtain an Oregon DEQ air permit for its proposed coal storage facility at the Port of Morrow.[11]

In May 2013, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued draft permits regulating coal dust at the Coyote Island Terminal at the Port of Morrow. The department will hold public hearings on the air and water pollution permits July 2013, and there is no specific date for final permits. Two of the permits are designed to control the release of coal dust into the air and water while it is being handled. A third permit covers potential erosion during construction. The project is still awaiting a permit for dock construction from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.[12]

In February 2014 the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued air quality, water quality, and stormwater construction permits for the Coyote Island Terminal. DEQ also announced that it is adding a fourth permit requirement, saying after considering the massive amount of public comments on the project, it decided Ambre Energy needs to get a 401 certification, which is a water quality permit. DEQ said it is not by law "allowed" to review the permit applications based on climate change considerations, a key factor why so many Oregonians and Washingtonians are opposed to exporting American coal to Asia.[13]

Ambre Energy also still needs permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Oregon Division of State Lands. The Army Corps has indicated its decision will be forthcoming in spring 2014. Ambre Energy hopes to be operational by the beginning of 2015.[13]

Removal fill permit denied

In August 2014 Oregon's Department of State Lands determined that, despite a two-year review, Ambre Energy hadn't done enough to avoid harming tribal fisheries with its proposed Port of Morrow. In denying their application, the Lands Department said Ambre Energy presented some possible options to mitigate the effect on fishing, but failed to commit to any specific action. It also said Ambre hadn't properly investigated alternatives that would avoid construction of a new dock. The agency therefore denied the company a removal fill permit. Ambre has 21 days to file for an appeal before an administrative law judge, whose decision can be reviewed in state appellate courts.[14]

In September 2014 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it had brought its review of the proposed coal export terminal to an immediate halt while a judge considers an appeal by Ambre and the Port of Morrow over the state's August 2014 decision that the terminal would potentially interfere with tribal fishing rights.[15]

Ambre sells its US subsidiary

In November 2014 Ambre Energy sold its U.S. assets to Resource Capital Funds for US$18 million: the Decker coal mine in Montana, the Black Butte coal mine in southwestern Wyoming, and Ambre's stake in the Morrow Port project in Oregon and Millennium Bulk Terminals in Washington. Filings with Australian regulators show that Ambre accumulated US$32 million in debt since December 2013, with all the financing provided by RCF. RCF describes itself as a "a mining focused private equity firm," and has stated it intends to pursue the coal terminal projects.[16]

In April 2015 Ambre Energy North America changed its name to Lighthouse Resources, with Resource Capital Funds the majority owner.[17]

Aug 2016: Judge upholds permit denial

In August 2016 an Oregon administrative law judge upheld the 2014 decision by the Oregon Department of State Lands to deny a permit for the project.[18]

Oct 2016: Lighthouse drops out

In October 2016 Lighthouse Resources issued a press release stating the company "will no longer pursue its appeal of the Oregon Department of State Lands permit opinion that slowed the [Coyote Island] project in 2014," effectively ending its involvement in the proposed Morrow Pacific coal export port. Instead, the company said it will export coal through Westshore Terminals in British Columbia. While the company has dropped its legal challenge, the Port of Morrow is persisting with its appeal.[5]

Nov 2016: Port withdraws application

In November 2016 the port agreed to withdraw its application for the dock. In exchange, the Department of State Lands will withdraw the findings from its 2014 permit denial. Essentially, the agreement wipes the slate clean for the port to pursue other projects at the site, without setting a legal precedent for future development.[19]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: Port of Morrow
  • Location: Morrow, Oregon
  • Proposed Coal Capacity (Million tonnes per annum): 8
  • Status: Cancelled
  • Type: Exports
  • Cost:
  • Financing:

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  1. "Morrow Pacific project," Ambre Energy, accessed July 2014, Archived July 29, 2014
  2. Rob Davis, "Oregon Department of State Lands rejects Ambre Energy coal export permit, dealing major blow," Oregonian, August 18, 2014
  3. "State denies Coyote Island Terminal permit application," Department of State Lands press release, August 18, 2014
  4. "Form 5057A," Australian Securities and Investments Commission, November 12, 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Company exits Morrow Pacific Project," Lighthouse Resources, Oct 13, 2016
  6. George Plaven, "Port of Morrow agrees to withdraw Coyote Island Terminal application," East Oregonian, November 10, 2016
  7. "Morrow Pacific project," Ambre Energy, accessed July 2014.
  8. Dean Brickey, "Utah company sending coal shipments to Asia through Port of Morrow" East Oregonian, May 13, 2011.
  9. "Coal shipment poses risk, yet benefits only foreign interests " Jeff & Colleen Blackwood, East Oregonian, June 2, 2011.
  10. "Northwest coal export projects could have 'significant' public health impacts, EPA says" Scott Learn, The Oregonian, April 13, 2012.
  11. "Ambre Energy needs Oregon air permit to store coal at Port of Morrow", July 17, 2012.
  12. Jeff Barnard, "Oregon coal port gets key draft permit," Associated Press, May 31, 2013.
  13. 13.0 13.1 "DEQ issues crucial permits for Oregon coal export terminal," Portland Tribune, Feb 11, 2014.
  14. Rob Davis, "Oregon Department of State Lands rejects Ambre Energy coal export permit, dealing major blow," The Oregonian, August 18, 2014.
  15. Nigel Duara, "Corps Halts Review of Oregon Coal Export Terminal," Associated Press, Sep. 15, 2014.
  16. "Ambre Energy sells North American assets in bid to save coal ports," Star Tribune, Dec 8, 2014
  17. "Ambre Energy North America, Inc. changes its name to Lighthouse Resources Inc.," Lighthouse Resources Inc. press release, April 13, 2015
  18. "Oregon lawfully rejected Morrow coal export terminal, judge rules," Oregon Live, Aug 12, 2016
  19. George Plaven, "Port of Morrow agrees to withdraw Coyote Island Terminal application," East Oregonian, November 10, 2016

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