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Coal Opponents Point To Weak Finances Of Company Behind Proposed Terminals

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Oregon regulators’ rejection of a proposed coal export terminal on the Columbia River is just the latest hurdle for the energy company behind it, according to anti-coal activists.

The activists are asking Washington officials to consider Ambre Energy’s finances before allowing a terminal it’s involved in at Longview, Washington. 

Ambre Energy is the main investor in the Morrow-Pacific export terminal proposed in Oregon. It also has a 62 percent stake in the Longview proposal.  

Proponents say expanding coal exports would create jobs and boost local economies. But activists and community members worried about negative environmental impacts doubt the company will be able to fulfill that promise.     

“The permit denial at Morrow Pacific is not just a bump in the road for Amber Energy, but actually may be an existential threat to the company,” said Clarke Williams-Derry with Seattle’s Sightline Institute, an environmental nonprofit group. 

Williams-Derry says plummeting prices of U.S. coal as well as falling demand in China have undermined Ambre’s prospects since it first proposed the export terminals.

“They have been sustaining major losses over the past several years and their auditors have consistently warned of impending insolvency. That is: If they don’t find new financing soon, there’s real risk that they may not be able to continue as an ongoing concern,” Williams-Derry said.

Williams-Derry says Ambre needed to get the Oregon permit to guarantee long-term financing. And without it, the company may not have money to spend on new infrastructure near the terminals, such as roads and overpasses to navigate around increasingly congested railways.

Ambre officials could not be reached for comment.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to