Will Cherry Point coal port be denied this week?

The folks in Montana think the US Army Corps of Engineers will announce this week the denial of a permit for the mega coal port at Cherry Point. The Helena Independent Record newspaper has a story today stating the coal port “... appears headed for denial this week…”. This is according to their local U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke.

You can read the story here.

Zinke has fired off a letter on Tuesday to the Defense Department, charging the Army colonel in charge of permitting with illegal actions and not following protocol. The letter has a panic tone through all three paragraphs. A link to a pdf of his letter is just below this article.

This is all we have this evening. Freelance journalist Stephan Michaels of Bellingham (who wrote about GPT in the Seattle Times) stumbled upon this Independent Record article this evening and forwarded to me late this evening. And I share with you, gentle readers.

Amazing if true. With the coal industry and exports tanking - and probably tanking for all time - this coal port was becoming a dead end project. One of the original 2011 proponents, Peabody Energy, one of the largest coal companies at that time, is expected to file for bankruptcy within weeks. It was worth over $10 billion in 2011 and is barely worth $50 million today, a drop of over 99% in value. They are no longer involved with GPT.

Update - Wed 4:30 pm

Samantha Wohlfeil has obviously spent much of today tracking down this story and the Herald now has it online. Good coverage. It appears that the Army Corps of Engineers is modifying or reversing itself on an earlier statement to the Montana U.S. Rep. Zinke that it would issue a decision this week. In her article, Sam notes the Corp spokesperson says it may not even issue a decision this month.

Perhaps the Defense Department put pressure on the Seattle Corps office to hold off. Afer all, a U.S. Congresman who goes crazy in a letter with accusations needs to be respected - and his letter may have earned the issue some time delay. Reading Zinke's letter is a humorous experience as he loses it totally on the Army's Col. Buck. Lets hope the good Colonel is not harrassed because of Zinke's tirade.

As more develops, we will either report or link to it for you. We will do our best. Which brings me to the following.

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About John Servais

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Stephan Michaels

Mar 16, 2016

Wrote the reporter in Montana asking why Zinke fears the Corps will pull the plug on GPT today.  Here is his response:  “The House is in session 10 days in March, including today, Thursday and Monday through Wednesday next week. Col. Buck and the will [sic] be on the Hill testifying today and also has a meeting with Zinke and Jo-Ellen Darcy.

This is the only time the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be on the hill in the last five working days this month.”

I’m skeptical considering the Corps’ history of green-lighting energy projects, especially with so much pressure on them to let the EIS proceed.  But one can hope.


Stephan Michaels

Mar 16, 2016

Update:  KGMI is also reporting that the Corps might pull the plug on GPT today.

“A spokeswoman for Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke says the Army Corp of Engineers indicated to him they would kill the proposal today”

- See more at: http://kgmi.com/news/007700-army-corps-expected-to-kill-cherry-point-terminal-plan/#sthash.0ed947eu.dpuf


Stephan Michaels

Mar 16, 2016

As of 1:47PM - KGMI Updates -

“Heather Swift, a spokeswoman for Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke, says the Army Corps of Engineers indicated to him they would kill the proposal.

Swift initially said the announcement would come today, but the Corps’ is now saying no decision will be made today.”


David Camp

Mar 24, 2016

The Corps is in a tough spot, politically. Given the cratering of coal prices and the near-bankruptcy of every company involved in exploiting POwder RIver Basin coal, the project is already unlikely. So why take the risk of killing the project when just waiting for it to die a natural death has fewer political consequences?

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