WASHINGTON, D.C.- A Crow tribe representative joined Republican Sens. Steve Daines of Montana and John Barrasso of Wyoming Thursday to call for reforming national clean water laws to support coal exports.
CJ Stewart, board director of the National Tribal Energy Association, spoke to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on the importance of coal exports to Asia to Crow reservation, where unemployment is high.
“Tribal economies face many obstacles to success, and currently the economy of the Crow Tribe is facing a critical crisis. While we are blessed with untold mineral wealth in oil, coal, and gas on the Crow reservation, regulatory roadblocks and political crisis force us to languish in poverty,” Stewart told the committee in a statement provided by Barrasso.
Daines and Barrasso are sponsoring a bill to amend section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which they say has been abused by regulators in Washington state when they denied a permit for the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals coal dock earlier this year.
The bill is the latest effort to jumpstart the coal port, which has been in regulatory limbo since it was first proposed on the Columbia River in Longview, Wash., in 2011.
In the spring, a judge in Washington state upheld the state’s Department of Natural Resources denial of a key permit because the company did not have an adequate plan to protect the Columbia River from coal dust floating in the air at the site or from trains headed there.
The project isn’t dead, and if it’s built, the Crow hope to export their coal to markets in Asia. The coal dock would be the largest in North America.