BNSF Railway Company has requested to join the lawsuit filed by Lighthouse Resources against Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration for allegedly violating the federal statutes in denying permits to Millennium Bulk Terminals.
After the company’s proposal to build a large coal terminal in the state was denied due to environmental concerns, logistics company Lighthouse Resources filed the suit in January. Lighthouse subsidiaries operate coal mines in Montana and Wyoming, coal that would have been transported via rail to the proposed terminal overseas.
BNSF’s complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, contends that Washington state officials have unduly burdened interstate commerce, a violation of the Constitution’s dormant commerce clause, and the ICC Termination Act, by using supposed rail impacts to unreasonably deny permits for Millennium Bulk Terminals. When it comes to regulating railroad operations, federal law preempts state regulation.
BNSF’s complaint also contends that Washington state officials’ actions amount to an embargo on American coal exports, which is also a violation of the foreign commerce clause.
“As a common carrier, BNSF is required by federal law to move regulated goods, including coal,” said Roger Nober, BNSF’s executive vice president Law and Corporate Affairs. “Permitting this facility should have followed the long-established process of making a determination based on site-specific impacts, instead they have taken it upon themselves to deny permits based on so-called rail impacts. This is a very clear violation of federal law.”