Company sues Washington state for blocking coal export terminal

Company sues Washington state for blocking coal export terminal

A coal company hoping to build a coal export terminal in Washington state sued the state government Wednesday for blocking the project.

Lighthouse Resources Inc. said in its federal lawsuit that Washington’s decision amounts to an unconstitutional ban on coal exports and imposes illegal restrictions on railroad and ship operations.

“It’s no secret that Washington state officials are philosophically opposed to coal,” Everett King, the company’s president, said in a statement. “But that does not give them legal authority to discriminate against this project and block foreign trade and interstate commerce.”

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Lighthouse is headquartered in Salt Lake City, and its subsidiaries operate coal mines in Montana and Wyoming. It hoped to build the Millennium Coal Terminal in Longview, Wash., to export coal to markets like Japan and South Korea.

It would have been the largest coal export terminal in the United States.

But Washington’s Department of Ecology rejected the application to build on the Columbia River last year.

Lighthouse alleges that the rejection was a violation of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which gives the federal government sole authority to regulate interstate commerce.

The rejection also violated laws that prohibit states from regulating certain aspects of the operations of railroads and maritime shipping, the company argues in the lawsuit.