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Millennium loses appeal over shorelines permit

Millennium loses appeal over shorelines permit

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Millennium (copy)

Millennium Bulk Terminals is located at the former Reynolds Metals plant west of Longview.

Millennium Bulk Terminal's years-long proposal to build a $680 million coal export export dock in Longview received yet another legal blow Tuesday when the Washington State Court of Appeals upheld the denial of a key shorelines permit.

Writing for the three-judge panel, Judge Rich Melnick said the court disagreed with several of Millennium's disputes about legal procedural errors in the original denial. It thus upheld the State Shorelines Hearing Board's denial of the shorelines permit.

The appeals court heard the case despite a Jan. 21 argument from State Department of Ecology attorneys, who said the case was "moot," or irrelevant. The assertion was based on the the state's denial of an aquatic lands sublease, without which the project can't be built. The state Supreme Court ruled in December that the state legally denied the company that sublease.

Melnick wrote that the shorelines issue has nothing to do with the aquatic lease, and Millennium could still continue to pursue the lease if it ever obtained the shorelines permit.  "Accordingly we conclude that this case it not moot," he wrote.

Millennium and its parent company, Lighthouse Resources Inc., want to build the largest coal export dock in the U.S. West Coast to ship coal to Asia. Millennium estimates that the terminal would support 1,300 construction jobs and 130 permanent jobs, as well as generate millions of dollars annually in taxes.

The companies first pitched the project in 2012. It has been wrapped up in the permitting process and litigation ever since, and the company has been largely on the losing side.

The state denied two shorelines permits and one water quality permit for the project. Without those permits, Millennium cannot build its coal terminal.

The company filed several lawsuits appealing the denials, but every legal body that has made a final decision on permit denials in these cases has upheld the denials, according to Ecology.

Nonetheless, Millennium continues to fight for its project in the courts, including in a federal lawsuit that alleges that the state violated the foreign and interstate commerce law by denying the permits.

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