Washington state denies permit to ship Wyoming coal to Asia

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Olympia, Wash. - The state of Washington has denied a key permit sought by a company that wants to build and operate a large terminal to export coal from Western states to Asia.

The coal would come from Powder River Basin mines in both Wyoming and Montana and be loaded onto ships in Washington headed to Asia.

The Department of Ecology said Tuesday it rejected a water quality permit that Millennium Bulk Terminals wanted because the proposed facility near Longview in southwest Washington state would have caused "significant and unavoidable harm" to the environment. The department cited impacts to air quality, noise pollution and tribal resources, among other areas.

Last year, the Army Corps of Engineers said the effects on Native American fishing areas and the proliferation of coal dust were less significant than the possibility of train noise and rail traffic.

Millennium Bulk Terminals has long hoped to build a facility along the Columbia River to handle up to 44 million tons of coal a year.

Wyoming, the nation's leading coal-producing state, has been looking to Asia amid competition from cheap natural gas and tighter federal regulations.