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Six states join legal battle over development of Millennium Bulk coal terminals

Wyoming, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Utah filed a joint amicus brief on Tuesday in support of the Millennium Bulk coal terminal project in Longview. Since 2012, Millennium Bulk has pushed to develop a coal terminal facility along the Columbia River, but has continuously met governmental roadblocks along the way.

Back in January, Millennium Bulk’s parent company, Lighthouse Resources Inc., filed a federal lawsuit against Gov. Inslee and members of his administration over their decision to block progress on the company’s coal terminal project. The lawsuit claims the state’s rejection of permits for the project violates the Dormant Foreign and Domestic Commerce Clauses of the US Constitution. Lighthouse Resources Inc. claims Washington state agencies have discriminated against the project because it involves coal, and in the process are burdening foreign and interstate commerce.

The six states filing the amicus brief agree with the lawsuit’s argument. The say Governor Inslee has an “anti-coal position” and that his actions are interfering with the free trade of other states. Specifically, the brief points to the impact on Wyoming and Montana which in 2016 generated tax revenues of over $800 million from the coal industry.

“The Defendants have engaged in a pattern of discrimination to prevent Wyoming and Montana from engaging in interstate and foreign commerce,” claim the states.

“In addition to the specific interests of Wyoming and Montana, the additional amici states have a broad interest in ensuring that no single state can engage in a pattern of discrimination that results in control over any other state’s ability to engage in a lawful activity involving interstate or foreign commerce. The Defendants’ unconstitutional actions threaten these interests.”

Last week four major trade associations including the National Mining Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufactures also filed an amicus brief in support of the coal terminals.