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Port Westward

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This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of coal exports
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Port Westward is an industrial park located at the Port of St. Helens, which was created in 1940 in Columbia City, Oregon, along the Columbia River. It is considered a deep water port.

Location

The port is located in Columbia City, approximately 30 miles north of Portland, Oregon.

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Summary of coal export proposals

Kinder Morgan

In 2011 Kinder Morgan proposed a $150 million coal export terminal at Port Westward. Kinder Morgan planned for the terminal to export 22 million tons of coal by 2022, requiring eight round trips daily to and from the terminal. [1][2][3]

Proposed Northwest Coal Export Locations.
Coal Export Threatens the Northwest.

The proposal was made to Portland General Electric (PGE), which renewed a 99-year lease in 2008 on 852 acres of developable land at the Port of St. Helens-owned energy park -- land the company can sublease to other companies. PGE rejected Kinder Morgan's proposal on May 2, 2012, due to concerns over coal dust.[4]

On May 8, 2013, Kinder Morgan officials announced they were dropping plans to build the coal terminal at Port Westward. According to a spokesperson for Kinder Morgan: “After months (and) many months of this analysis ... we determined we could not find a site on this footprint that we could construct.”[5]

Ambre Energy

As of 2014, Ambre Energy's proposal that their subsidiary Pacific Transloading ship 3.5 million to 8 million metric tons of coal a year is still being considered. Coal would be shipped on covered barges, received at Port Westward, and directly loaded onto about 50 ocean-going ships a year.[6]

The project is part of Ambre Energy plans for Coyote Island Terminal, which it plans to construct at the Port of Morrow for coal storage and barge loading. The coal will then be barged to Port Westward Industrial Park for transloading.[7]

Industrial expansion

In January 2014 the Columbia County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a plan to rezone 837 acres of farmland to industrial near Port Westward. Pat Trapp, the port’s executive director, said no projects have been identified for the rezoned land.[8] Port of St. Helens officials say no coal developments, aside from a proposal by Ambre Energy to transport coal to Port Westward via covered barge, are currently being considered for the energy park, as the withdrawal of Kinder Morgan from plans to build a coal terminal at Port Westward had soured port commissioners, at least for now, on the idea of another coal project at the site.[9]

Background

In June 2011, The Oregonian reported that the Port of St. Helens in Columbia City, Oregon was being eyed as a potential Northwest port that would export coal to Asian countries. It was also reported that Columbia Riverkeeper, which opposes coal export, asked a judge to require St. Helens Port to release all of its coal-related documents. In a response, a lawyer for the port stated that doing so would violate a confidentiality agreement and "would result in the greatest harm to the public interest which can be imagined -- a loss of jobs in our community."[3]

Oregon Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, wrote in a statement to The Oregonian that the terminal "should not happen in the dead of night. We must have an open, vigorous public debate before any projects move forward."[3]

In January 2012 The Oregonian reported two companies proposed to export Montana and Wyoming coal from the Powder River Basin through the Port of St. Helens: Kinder Morgan Energy Partners and Pacific Transloading, a subsidiary of Ambre Energy. Kinder Morgan proposed a dry bulk export terminal at the Port of St. Helens' Port Westward industrial park, using rail lines and building facilities to store and load coal. Ambre Energy proposed that their subsidiary Pacific Transloading ship 3.5 million metric tons of coal a year with potential to ship as much as 8 million metric tons with port approval. Coal would be shipped on covered barges, received at Port Westward and directly loaded onto about 50 ocean-going ships a year.[10]

In January 2012 it was reported that the proposed coal terminal at Port Westward was forcing Rainier-area officials to examine whether they needed to expand rail lines through the heart of town to accommodate hundreds of rail cars daily.[11]

Commissioners grant approval

On January 25, 2012 Port of St. Helens commissioners approved lease options for two coal terminals to Port Westward. The five-member commission unanimously approved a lease option from Pacific Transloading, a subsidiary of Australian coal company Ambre Energy, to operate a coal barge unloading dock at Port Westward. Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve a lease option from Kinder Morgan Energy Partners to build what could be the largest coal terminal on the U.S. West Coast.[2]

Oregon Gov. calls for review of coal export impacts

In April 2012 Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber called for an extensive federal government review of exporting coal to Asia through Northwest ports. The Governor said that coal exports could clog barge and train routes, increase diesel and coal dust pollution and boost amounts of toxic mercury drifting back to Oregon when Asian countries burn the coal.

Kitzhaber didn't take an explicit stand for or against exporting coal, but his letter asked the federal government to address how increasing exports to Asia will "fit with the larger strategy of moving to a lower carbon future."[12]

PGE rejects land lease

Kinder Morgan proposed to lease land for the coal export terminal from Portland General Electric (PGE). PGE renewed a 99-year lease in 2008 on 852 acres of developable land at the Port of St. Helens-owned energy park, which the company can sublease to other companies. PGE rejected Kinder Morgan's proposal on May 2, 2012, due to concerns over coal dust.[13]

Kinder Morgan scraps proposal

On May 8, 2013, Kinder Morgan officials announced they were dropping plans to build the coal terminal at Port Westward. The announcement was made during a meeting of Port of St. Helens commissioners, who were hoping to lease about 100 acres of land to Kinder Morgan. According to a spokesperson for Kinder Morgan: “After months (and) many months of this analysis ... we determined we could not find a site on this footprint that we could construct.”[14]

Articles and Resources

References

  1. "Port of St. Helens" Port of St. Helens Homepage, accessed June 15, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Coal in Clatskanie: Commissioners approve 2 Port Westward export proposals" Erik Olson, The Daily News Online, January 26, 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Port of St. Helens potential candidate for coal export to Asia" Scott Learn, The Oregonian, June 15, 2011.
  4. "EXCLUSIVE: PGE blocks major Oregon coal export project" South County Spotlight, Stover E Hanger III, May 2, 2012.
  5. "Kinder Morgan scraps Port Westward coal terminal proposal," The Daily News, May 08, 2013.
  6. "Two coal companies want to export coal through the Port of St. Helens" Scott Learn, The Oregonian, January 17, 2012.
  7. "Morrow Pacific project," Ambre Energy, accessed July 2014.
  8. "Oil train, coal export opponent protests industrial land expansion approved at Port Westward," Oregon Live, Jan 29, 2014.
  9. "Opponents of Port Westward expansion have their say at Clatskanie hearing," South Sounty Spotlight, Oct 11, 2013.
  10. "Two coal companies want to export coal through the Port of St. Helens" Scott Learn, The Oregonian, January 17, 2012.
  11. "Oregon officials ponder potential rail expansion for coal terminal" Erik Olson, TDN.com, January 19, 2012.
  12. "Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber calls for sweeping review of planned coal exports from Northwest ports" Scott Learn, The Oregonian, April 25, 2012.
  13. "EXCLUSIVE: PGE blocks major Oregon coal export project" South County Spotlight, Stover E Hanger III, May 2, 2012.
  14. "Kinder Morgan scraps Port Westward coal terminal proposal," The Daily News, May 08, 2013.

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