A coal mining company filed a lawsuit against Washington state in federal court Wednesday for denying a permit to build what would be the largest coal export terminal in the United States, The Washington Examiner reports.
Lighthouse Resources proposed building the Millennium Bulk Terminal to ship 44 million tons of coal to Asia from Montana and Wyoming. Washington’s Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon denied the proposal over “too many unavoidable and negative environmental effects.”
Lighthouse’s federal suit claims that Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee and the Department of Ecology violated the commerce clause of the Constitution. The clause gives Congress authority “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with Indian Tribes,” implying that individual states are barred from interfering in interstate commerce.
“It’s no secret that Washington state officials are philosophically opposed to coal,” Lighthouse President and CEO Everett King said, according to The Washington Examiner. “But that does not give them legal authority to discriminate against this project and block foreign trade and interstate commerce.”
Lighthouse previously filed a lawsuit against Washington in a state court, claiming regulators based their denial on unreasonable evidence. When studying the effects of the project, the Ecology department considered nine broad categories, such as air quality and noise, and calculated the environmental effects of the coal being burned in Asia, according to phys.org.
Washington regulators have denied every proposed export terminal in the state, six in all, since 2010.
Environmentalists have drawn a “thin green line” around the Pacific Northwest and are committed to fighting fossil fuel projects proposed in the area, especially those that increase energy exports to Asia. Environmentalists’ tactics include lobbying Washington state against approving coal terminals.
China is currently experiencing a coal shortage. Although the country is trying to pivot from coal-based power and heating to using natural gas, most of the country lacks the infrastructure to use natural gas-based systems. China petitioned mining companies at the beginning of the winter to mine high-quality coal for residents to burn to stay warm.
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