Cloud Peak Energy invests with Gateway Pacific Terminal to ship coal mined on Crow Reservation

News coverage of the event here.

LA Times article about Lummi Nation’s opposition here.

The Crow Tribe signed an agreement August 7, 2015, to become a 5% shareholder of Gateway Pacific Terminal, which is a partnership to open shipping ports in Washington.  The deal coincides with Cloud Peak Energy’s arrangement to pay Gateway Pacific Terminal $32 million to construct a port on Puget Sound that can ship 60 million tons of exports a year including coal mined on the Crow Reservation to Asian markets.  The Tribe leased coal to Cloud Peak Energy from its sole mine in 2013, but a new mine on the reservation could bring 20 million tons annually through the new port.

Although the Tribe does not owe any money up front it could be responsible for 5% of an estimated $700 million construction budget.  Final approval is still required from the Crow Tribe and the federal government.  Environmental surveys and plans are being conducted currently and there is opposition from both environmental and native groups including the Lummi Nation, who exercise fishing rights near the proposed port site.

American Public Media “Marketplace” Shows on Crow and Lummi Coal News

Thanks to D.L.:

The American Public Media show “Marketplace” is doing a series on coal, and two of their stories have focused on Indian tribes.  The first, about coal mining on the Crow Reservation, is more about the tribal economy; but the second, about a proposed coal shipping terminal in Washington state, has some legal issues (whether treaty fishing rights might be used to defeat the proposed coal terminal).

Both stories can be found at http://www.marketplace.org/topics/sustainability/coal-play

Coal Export Project Delayed After Agency Failed to Properly Inform Yakama Nation

Story from the Oregonian is here. An excerpt

Oregon’s Department of State Lands, which had planned to decide on the company’s permit by Dec. 12 has delayed a decision until April 1, said Charles Redon, a resource coordinator for the agency.

DSL is opening a third public comment period on the Ambre’s Morrow Pacific  project, which would bring coal by train from Montana or Wyoming, unload and store it at a new terminal at the Port of Morrow, then ship the coal by barge to a Port of St. Helens dock for export. The new comment period will run from Dec. 1 to Dec. 31.

The agency neglected to properly notify the Yakama Nation about the project, Redon said. The Yakama and other Northwest tribes have raised significant concerns about five proposals for terminals to export coal from the Northwest.

Information Meetings here.

More about coal exporting in the Pacific Northwest is at Northwest Public Radio here.

Previous post on the subject is here.

Tales from the Cert Pool: Montana Taxes at Crow

The Supreme Court denied cert in a case captioned Montana v. Crow Tribe of Indians, 484 U.S. 1039 (1988) (No. 87-343). The case involved the State’s attempt to impose severance and gross proceeds on a non-Indian mining company.

The cert pool memo (from a Rehnquist clerk no less) ripped the State’s argument:

[Montana]’s contention that its taxes should not be preempted because they fall on Westmoreland, rather than on the Crow Tribe itself, is ludicrous. The state severance and gross proceeds taxes have restricted the amount of taxation [Crow] can levy on its lessees. The CA9 found that the marketability of [Crow]’s coal was significantly diminished by [Montana]’s taxes, resulting in a corresponding decrease in the amount of money accruing to[Crow]’s coffers.

Cert Pool Memo at 7.

How times have changed. After Cotton Petroleum and Wagnon, states can strategically tax for the specific purpose of limiting on-reservation activities and all but eliminate tribal tax base.