Oregon denied Ambre Energy’s request for a permit to build a coal export terminal on the Columbia River, saying the project was not in the best interests of the state’s water resources.

The terminal would have unloaded coal from incoming trains and stored it in warehouses before being sent by barge more than 200 miles downriver to a second site, where it would be loaded onto ocean-going vessels to supply Asian markets.

The facility eventually would have transported more than 8 million metric tonnes of coal per year.

In a statement, Oregon’s Department of State Lands said the project “is not consistent with the protection, conservation and best use of the state’s water resources.”

It added that the Australia-based Ambre did not provide sufficient analysis of alternatives that would have avoided the construction of a new dock and its impacts on tribal fisheries.

Environmentalists said this action marks the first time a Pacific Northwest agency has formally rejected a permit for one of the proposed coal export terminals in the region.

“From this decision to news that China’s coal consumption levels are expected to decline, the writing on the wall is clear: Coal exports are going nowhere fast,” Devin Martin, of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Louisiana.

“This decision will only catalyze local movements against coal exports throughout North America,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Ambre said the company disagreed with the “political decision” and said it was evaluating its next steps, including the full range of legal and permitting options.

Ambre has 21 days to request a formal appeal of the decision.

At least two other coal export terminal have been proposed in the region. Energy companies argue that the projects will create jobs and bring revenue to an area of the country still recovering from a deep recession. Opponents argue that the projects put precious natural resources at risk while exacerbating global climate change. (Reuters)