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Environmental review of Gateway coal terminal halted amid fishing concerns

An environmentalreview of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal in Washington has been suspendedafter the Lummi Nation urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny the project'spermit amid concerns on the tribal group's fishingpractices, The Associated Press reported April 1.

The postponementwas announced April 1 by SSA Marine,which owns 51% of the project. Construction of the project was estimated to cost$700 million, said the report.

The projectrecently faced several state and federal setbacks, including an of the project's permitprior to the completion of an environmental impact statement, which led to a callfor a federal investigation into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commander Col.John Buck. However, no decisionwas made about the port's approval by the Corps.

Despitethe many oppositions and delaysfaced by the coal terminal, CloudPeak Energy Inc., which owns a 49% stake in the project after it paid$2 million up front to SSA Marine and agreed to cover up to $30 million in permittingexpenses, remains bullish about the project's viability, according to the report.

"Thepartners understood from the beginning that this would be a lengthy and thoroughreview process," the report quoted Cloud Peak spokesman Rick Curtsinger assaying.

The Crowtribe was also offered a 5% stake in the port as the coal company plans to builda major mine on the Crow Tribe's southeastern Montana reservation and ship roughlyup to 18 million tons of coal through the proposed port, the report said.

The Lummitribe said that despite the announcement from SSA Marine, the Corps has made nodecision on the project. "We have submitted years of research showing thata terminal violates Lummi's treaty rights, and we remain confident that the Corpswill follow the law and make the right decision to deny the permit," Tim BallewII, chairman of the Lummi Indian Business Council, said in a statement.