BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – A coal company with mines in Montana and Wyoming said Thursday that it’s begun exporting fuel to Asia through a Canadian shipping terminal, after its years long effort to secure port access in the U.S. Pacific Northwest has come up short.
The announcement from Lighthouse Resources, Inc. offered a rare bit of positive news for the coal mining industry, which has been in a prolonged tailspin amid falling demand due to climate concerns and competition from cheap natural gas.
But industry opponents said the move signals that coal exports through Oregon and Washington are doomed to failure, while a regional trade group warned it heralds a loss of U.S. jobs to Canada. Details on the announcement were obtained in advance by The Associated Press.
Lighthouse, which is headquartered in Utah, had been seeking approval since 2011 for a coal export terminal in Oregon and since 2010 for a terminal in Washington. It’s faced strong opposition from environmentalists, American Indian tribes and some state officials concerned over coal dust pollution and potential damage to fisheries on the Columbia River.
With the company’s coal now going through British Columbia’s Westshore Terminals, Lighthouse Chief Executive Officer Everett King said it was pulling out of the proposed coal terminal at Port of Morrow in Boardman, Oregon after that project stalled.
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