Corps Message: Coyote Island Terminal regulatory permit application review

Port of Morrow rendering, July 2012

Port of Morrow rendering, July 2012

Where are we in the review process?
We are continuing our environmental assessment of permitting the Coyote Island Terminal shipping terminal project at the Port of Morrow near Boardman, Ore. As we consider direct, indirect and cumulative effects, we may determine that some are likely to have a significant impact on the environment, which would trigger the need to prepare an environmental impact statement.

We are coordinating with federally recognized Indian tribes to obtain information concerning the nature of impacts of concern to them. We are also consulting with the National Marine Fisheries Service, the State Historic Preservation Office and other interested parties to determine the project’s potential impacts to endangered species and cultural and historic properties.These consultations tend to be the lengthiest part of our application review. Right now we still don’t have a sense as to how long they will last, so we can’t speculate on a timeline for completion.

While those consultations are ongoing, we’re also continuing to evaluate those parts of the proposed project within our control and responsibility, to determine impacts to recreation, navigation, economic interests and other public interest factors.

What is our authority over this project?
Our regulatory authority over the proposed Coyote Island Terminal is Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, which gives us authority to ensure that there are no obstructions to the navigable waters of the United States from construction of piers, jetties and weirs; dredging projects; and other in-water work.

We are fully committed to protecting and maintaining the navigable capacity of our Nation’s waters and to protecting our aquatic resources through fair, flexible and balanced permit decisions.

What will we consider, and why?
We will analyze the potential impacts of the specific activity requiring a Corps permit – in this case, the construction of the barge dock – and those portions of the entire project over which we have sufficient control and responsibility.

We consider rail traffic, coal mining, shipping coal beyond the territorial seas or burning coal to be beyond our control, responsibility and/or expertise. Some of these activities are regulated by other federal agencies. Some are are too attenuated and too far removed from the activities we regulate to require our analysis.

We do think there is a close causal relationship between permitting the terminal and an increase in vessel traffic within certain U.S. navigable waters, so we will assess the indirect effects of vessel traffic.