Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Federal Judge Opens Door To Possible Mountain West Coal Exports

A coal train in the Powder River Basin.
Jerry Huddleston
A coal train in the Powder River Basin

A U.S. district court judge has struck down the City of Oakland’s ban on transporting coal through a planned export terminal there.

This could be big news for companies that want to ship their coal to key Asian markets.

In his ruling, the judge said the City of Oakland didn’t provide enough evidence that moving coal through the terminal was dangerous to the public.  

“We are really excited that the judge struck down the ban yesterday,” said Katie Sweeney, an attorney with the pro-coal National Mining Association.

According to Sweeney, the ruling could pave the way for Mountain West coal companies to ship their product through the port.

And she says the ruling may have implications for another proposed coal export terminal in Longview, Washington.

That terminal is currently ensnared its own legal battle because Washington State denied its permits.

However, EarthJustice attorney Kristen Boyles said the Oakland ruling has no bearing in the Washington case.

“The court’s ruling was about a specific, local contract between Oakland and a developer and that’s not an issue that’s been raised here,” she said.

The City of Oakland may appeal this week’s ruling.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.