Recently, the Oregonian reported that Ambre Energy “removed one obstacle” to its coal export ambitions by buying out the Decker Mine in a legal settlement with Cloud Peak Energy. Unfortunately for the troubled Australian coal upstart, this week Ambre also gained eight hundred new reasons to be worried.
Coal companies like Ambre have been targeting the Pacific Northwest as part of their plan to export millions of tons of publicly-owned coal to Asia. Americans are increasingly saying no to coal, which has left industry CEOs scrambling to find new markets for these toxic rocks. Ambre is hoping to lead this charge, and construct the first new coal export terminal in the Northwest at the Port of Morrow in Oregon. The environmental and climate consequences would be devastating.
Fortunately, for those of us who care about clean air and a stable climate, Ambre’s plans have been littered with setbacks. Earlier this year, Ambre was sued by their business partner Cloud Peak Energy over their co-owned Decker coal mine. Cloud Peak pointed to Ambre’s financial woes and poor business practices in the suit – not exactly the kind of news you’d want a close partner broadcasting to the world.
Yesterday, Ambre and Cloud Peak were able to come to an agreement, with Ambre buying out the Decker mine for a cool $60 million. Ignoring the fact that the Decker loses money on every ton of coal mined, this has generated some favorable press for Ambre – a positive step forward in its plan to export coal to Asia! So are things looking up?
Well, appearances can be deceiving. While Ambre executives have a nasty lawsuit off their backs and one fewer business partner to publicly damage their reputation, they are also facing massive public resistance in Oregon to their proposed export terminal.
This week, the Oregon Dept of Environmental Quality held the first set of public hearings on state permits for Ambre’s Morrow Pacific project. The public turnout has been humbling. Hundreds of Oregonians have sat through tedious bureaucratic hearings to voice their concern and opposition to Ambre’s plan, asking hard hitting questions about everything from impacts to air quality, to the health of the Columbia River, to climate change.
In Portland alone, eight hundred concerned citizens packed into a standing room only hearing, the vast majority saying no to coal industry greed.
These activists are part of a growing movement that will stop coal exports through the Pacific Northwest. And across the globe, Greenpeace is joining with grassroots activists to hold industry accountable and keep coal in the ground.
Ambre may have a mine on its hands, but after this week, it has a few hundred new reasons to worry about the success of its export dreams.
UPDATE: Check out photos from the Portland hearing via our partners at Columbia Riverkeeper