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Coal hub backer appeals lease denial

LONGVIEW, Wash. (AP) — Developers of a proposed coal-export terminal in southwest Washington have appealed after the state last month denied the project an aquatic lands sublease.

Millennium Bulk Terminals and Northwest Alloys challenged the state's decision in Cowlitz County Superior Court on Feb. 2, The Daily News of Longview reported Sunday.

Before leaving office, Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark last month rejected a request from Northwest Alloys — originally made in 2010 — to sublease the state's aquatic lands to Millennium for the coal-export project. Northwest Alloys owns the site of a former aluminum smelter where the coal terminal is proposed.

The proposed terminal in Longview would handle up to 44 million metric tons of coal a year. The coal would arrive by train from Montana, Wyoming and other states to be stored and loaded on ships for export to Asia.

The companies argue in court filings that the decision infringes on their property rights. They also dispute Goldmark's assertion that they didn't provide adequate information about Millennium's financial standing.

Attorneys for the company wrote that they have responded to numerous requests for information from the Department of Natural Resources and cooperated by providing extensive information demonstrating Millennium's suitability as a subtenant under the lease.

DNR spokesman Joe Smillie said the department is reviewing how to move forward, but he declined to comment on the pending litigation.

New state Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz said last month that Goldmark made the "right decision." Franz has repeatedly said she opposes leasing state lands for fossil fuel projects.

Millennium had previously contended the existing lease with Northwest Alloys was sufficient, but now the companies say the appeal is a cautionary measure.

"Northwest Alloys filed an appeal to protect its legal rights while we work cooperatively with DNR to reach a solution that would allow a potential sub-tenant for the aquatic lands lease," said Mark Stiffler, president of Northwest Alloys, in a statement to the newspaper Saturday.



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