Engineers reduce scope of Columbia River coal terminal endangered species review

Impact will only be considered in vicinity of depot

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reducing the area it will consider in its endangered species review for the Morrow Pacific coal export terminal proposed on the Oregon side of the Columbia River.

Instead of considering the project's impacts to threatened salmon and steelhead along 276 miles of the Columbia River channel, the agency will limit its assessment to less than one mile around the project's proposed dock at the Port of Morrow in Boardman, Ore.

The Morrow Pacific project would transport coal by rail from Montana and Wyoming to Boardman in eastern Oregon. From there, it would be loaded onto covered barges and shipped down the Columbia River to the Port of St. Helens. There, it would be transferred to ocean-going vessels headed to Asia.

Project developer Ambre Energy has applied for a permit from the corps to build a receiving dock at in Boardman.

As part of that permitting process, the corps is reviewing the project's impacts to endangered species such as salmon and steelhead. But the agency says it will only consider the impacts within a 3,000-foot area at the project site in Boardman.

That's a much smaller area than Ambre Energy had proposed for review last year.

Corps spokesman Scott Clemans said his agency never committed to considering the Columbia River channel in its endangered species review. He said it was Ambre Energy that suggested a larger area of review, and the corps asked the company to reduce that area.

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