The Trump administration is looking into using federal properties such as West Coast military bases to set up coal and natural gas export facilities after projects to build such infrastructure have run into challenges in California, Washington and Oregon, The Associated Press reported Oct. 15, citing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and two Republican lawmakers.
Zinke, in an interview with The Associated Press, said the proposal would support U.S. allies and have important national security benefits. The secretary said the U.S. could partner with private entities for coal and liquefied natural gas shipments through U.S. naval installations, as well as other federal properties.
"I respect the state of Washington and Oregon and California," Zinke said. "But also, it's in our interest for national security and our allies to make sure that they have access to affordable energy commodities."
The West Coast offers a cost-effective route for exports to Asia. West Coast facilities could draw gas and coal from the Rocky Mountain region in the U.S. and from Canada, among other production zones. Zinke pointed to the former Adak Naval Air Facility in Alaska's Aleutian Islands as a potential gas export hub. He did not mention other sites for gas or coal.
U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said she spoke with Zinke and U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry about using federal properties to avoid the local opposition and regulatory hurdles that have confronted export projects on the West Coast. "That might be, for example, retired military facilities or other places where we would be able to use those for exports — frankly, to get around some of the unreasonable obstacles that have been thrown up," Cheney said.
A Lighthouse Resources Inc. coal export project planned along the Columbia River was denied permits required under the Clean Water Act in September 2017. Backers of the proposed terminal in September 2018 filed a lawsuit in superior court, accusing Washington Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee of having a bias against coal. Environmental groups and other opponents have said the project would pose environmental and health threats.