- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2016

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - A port in Idaho should be used to bypass ports on the West Coast to export large amounts of Wyoming coal overseas, a state senator running for Wyoming’s seat in the U.S. House said.

Lewiston, Idaho, could be a good way to get around opposition to coal exports, Republican Sen. Leland Christensen told the Casper Star-Tribune (https://bit.ly/29VthY1).

He said he’s discussed the idea a couple times with Idaho Gov. Butch Otter.

“This really didn’t start as a congressional issue,” Christensen said Tuesday. “This started in the Legislature as a Wyoming challenge of international commerce.”

Lewiston is on the Snake River, 465 miles from the Pacific Ocean, and is the easternmost Pacific port in the U.S. Some ocean-going vessels can reach Lewiston by way of the Columbia River.

Wyoming is the top coal-producing state and for years has been looking to export coal through ports on the West Coast. Tough times for the coal industry have added urgency to the idea.

Support for developing coal export ports in Washington state and Oregon has been mixed, however, with some saying coal exports would exacerbate global warming and encourage coal dust pollution from trains.

Details of exporting coal through Lewiston have yet to be resolved. Among them is whether coal loaded in Lewiston would have to be loaded onto larger ships elsewhere, Christensen said.

An adviser to Democratic U.S. House candidate Charlie Hardy was skeptical.

“When it comes to these waterways, everybody downstream is going to have something to say,” Bruce Wilkinson said. “While he thinks he can get it passed in Idaho, everybody in Washington and Oregon is going to want to have a say on this.”

Nine Republicans and two Democrats are running to replace Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis, who is not seeking re-election.


Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, https://www.trib.com

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