(Adds comment from Washington Governor's office)
By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON, Jan 3 (Reuters) - A company that plans to build
a coal export terminal in the Pacific Northwest to ship western
U.S. coal to Asian markets sued the state of Washington on
Wednesday for blocking construction last year.
Lighthouse Resources Inc filed a lawsuit in federal court
against Washington Governor Jay Inslee and two state regulators
for allegedly violating the U.S. Constitution's commerce clause
by denying permits to allow the company to ship coal mined in
Wyoming, Montana and other western states through its proposed
Millennium Bulk Terminal to clients in Japan and South Korea.
Lighthouse Resources' complaint, filed in U.S. District
Court in Tacoma, claims that state regulators "unreasonably"
refused to process permits to develop a site on the Columbia
River where an existing Washington state lease allows coal
The governor's office confirmed it received the filing and
is reviewing it but cannot address pending litigation, said
spokeswoman Tara Lee.
Washington state's Department of Ecology denied a key water
quality permit for the Millennium Coal Terminal, blocking what
would be the largest coal export terminal in the United States.
The agency said the export terminal would cause environmental
harm in nine areas, from air quality to vessel traffic.
Lighthouse, a privately held company based in Salt Lake
City, says that by rejecting necessary permits, regulators
imposed an "embargo" on new coal exports and discriminated
against Lighthouse’s efforts to transport coal mined in Montana
and Wyoming through Washington.
The commerce clause gives Congress the authority to regulate
interstate commerce to prevent economic battles between states.
Lighthouse, which is the parent company of the Millennium
Bulk Terminals and whose subsidiary companies own coal mines in
Wyoming and Montana, accused Washington state officials of being
"philosophically opposed to coal."
“But that does not give them legal authority to discriminate
against this project and block foreign trade and interstate
commerce,” Lighthouse Resources Chief Executive Officer Everett
Lighthouse is also seeking a declaration by the court that
the state's denial is unlawful and an order directing the state
to continue processing any and all current and future permit
The company also said that since the coal its subsidiaries
are mining are on federally leased land, preventing exports to
customers in Japan and South Korea keeps the companies from
achieving "maximum economic recovery for minerals."
The Millennium Coal Terminal is the last of six proposed
coal terminals in the Pacific Northwest that was denied approval
by state regulators or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers amid
opposition from states and the Lummi Tribe, which argued that
coal terminals interfered with their fishing rights.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Leslie Adler and
© 2018 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. Reuters content is the intellectual property of Thomson Reuters or its third party content providers. Any copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. "Reuters" and the Reuters Logo are trademarks of Thomson Reuters and its affiliated companies.