The coal industry, farmers and refiners are pushing back against the state of Washington’s “illegal” efforts to block the construction of a major export terminal that would increase energy exports to Asian markets.
“Washington state’s actions are an illegal effort to interfere and obstruct interstate and foreign commerce of an essential energy commodity, in violation of the commerce clause,” said Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association, in seeking to join a lawsuit Thursday.
“If states are ultimately given a veto over commodities that can be traded from the U.S., it would open the floodgates for states located at strategic export locations to disrupt national and international trade policies,” Quinn said.
The lawsuit challenges the state’s denial of permits required to build the Millennium Bulk Terminal on the Columbia River in Longview. The project developer began applying for permits in 2012 to upgrade the site from being an old aluminum smelter to an export terminal for coal and other commodities.
The Lighthouse lawsuit charges Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat leading an effort to oppose President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, and members of his administration with blocking coal mined in Wyoming, Montana, and other western states from being exported through the terminal. The groups argue that Inslee’s actions are in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause, as well as other federal statutes.
“It was precisely to prevent … intrastate meddling in foreign trade policy that the Framers of the Constitution saw fit to allocate exclusive authority over international trade and foreign policy to the federal government,” read the mining group’s brief. “Washington’s conduct in this case is inconsistent with that constitutional framework. In this case, it is coal; in the next case, it could be agriculture or manufactured goods.”
The other groups signed onto the coal group’s brief in support of the plaintiffs call for the court to issue a preliminary injunction against the state of Washington.
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- On May 4, 2018