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Washington called a “blockade” to international trade during Montana Energy Summit

On Thursday, during the 2018 Montana Energy Summit, Republican lawmakers and energy industry leaders called out Washington State as a barrier to international trade.

Specifically, their critique focused on the state’s actions in the ongoing six-year battle to develop Millennium Bulk’s coal terminal project in Longview, Washington. Millennium first filed permits for the project back in 2012, but developments on the terminal have been stalled as the state has continuously rejected their permits.

Millennium Bulk’s parent company, Lighthouse Resources Inc., filed a federal lawsuit against Governor Inslee and his administration for blocking progress on the project in January, claiming that the state’s actions violate the Dormant Foreign and Domestic Commerce Clauses of the Constitution. Then in May, six states filed an amicus brief in support of Lighthouse Resources. The brief points to the impact on Wyoming and Montana; two states that are unable to transport their coal to the terminal, which then impacts their ability to export coal internationally.

Speaking at the Montana Energy Summit was BNSF Railway Chairman Matt Rose. His remarks focused on the power of Washington and its impact on other states’ energy projects.

“I’ve never seen such an aggressive approach to prevent world trade out of this country by going after the permit-ability of localized projects. By that I mean, if you go to the West Coast, which is where all of our export for our railroad is, every time we look at a project we have an enormous amount of controversy by, quite frankly, the extreme environmental left.”

“What we have is a state, and I’ll speak very clearly, the state of Washington, that’s choosing winners and losers when it comes to trade. And they are actually acting like our trade rep, and like our commerce department, and like our secretary of state office. And they’re deciding, ‘we like to export certain products but we don’t like to export other products’.”

He says that Washington’s refusal to permit certain energy projects is impacting the United States’ ability to be global energy leaders.

“We can have the greatest energy resource in the world, we may be able to mine it, but we’re not going to be able to move it,” said Rose.

U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), who helped organize the Montana energy conference, similarly described Washington as a barrier.

“A single state here is becoming, frankly, a blockade to Montana and other states to getting their product overseas,” said Daines.

Also speaking at the event was Lighthouse Resources President & CEO Everett King.

“This is interstate commerce, it’s international trade; this effectively becomes a non-tariff barrier to us being able to put our goods into the international markets,” said King.

“The permitting process has unfortunately been weaponized. It can be used as a weapon to choose and pick winners and losers…You can’t have one state, saying to the rest of the country, this is what’s acceptable, and this is what isn’t.”