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Lighthouse Resources sues Washington state for blocking coal export terminal

Lighthouse Resources is the corporate parent of Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview.
Photo – Lighthouse Resources Inc.

Lighthouse Resources Inc. yesterday filed a federal lawsuit against the Washington state government for blocking the mining company from developing a coal export terminal along the Columbia River.

Filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, Washington, the lawsuit details the company's allegations that state officials violated the U.S. Constitution and federal law by "unreasonably denying and refusing to process permits to develop a brownfield site on the river where an existing state lease allows coal exports."

Based in Salt Lake City, Lighthouse owns and operate coal mines in Montana and Wyoming. The firm is the corporate parent of Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview, which has proposed construction and operation of the terminal to export coal from the site in Longview, Washington, to Asian markets. The site currently receives coal for local use and is ready to receive other bulk commodities.

The export terminal would be served by BNSF Railway Co.

"It's no secret that Washington state officials are philosophically opposed to coal," said Everett King, Lighthouse Resources' president and chief executive officer, in a press release. "But that does not give them legal authority to discriminate against this project and block foreign trade and interstate commerce."

In its complaint, the company alleges state officials violated the dormant foreign commerce clause by unilaterally imposing an embargo on new coal exports and by discriminating against Lighthouse's efforts to transport into Washington coal that is being mined in Montana and Wyoming and other western states.

Additionally, the complaint alleges the state's actions are preempted by the ICC Termination Act, which gives federal jurisdiction over railroad operations, as well as the Ports and Waterways Safety Act, which allows for maritime shipping in U.S. harbors.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/4/2018