Another chance for Millennium Bulk Terminals tidelands sublease; regulatory hurdles still high.

The Seattle Times reports another twist in the saga of Millennium Bulk Terminals.

Developers of a proposed coal-export terminal in Longview got a boost Friday from a Cowlitz County judge who ruled in their favor in a legal battle with Washington state.

Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning ruled that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) improperly denied a tidelands sublease to operate docks at the facility along the Columbia River.

Keep Washington Competitive heralds the decision.

Calling the Department of Natural Resources’ decision “arbitrary and capricious,” a Cowlitz County Superior Court judge is sending the state back to the drawing board to develop a solution to the Millennium aquatic lands sublease.

“Friday’s decision validates the concerns of many watching this process unfold. It’s clear from the decision that the judge believes the state is exceeding its regulatory authority and acting from a political perspective in these matters— not following the rule of law,” said John Stuhlmiller, CEO of the Washington Farm Bureau and a KWC board member.  “This ruling suggest a deep frustration with state regulators who seem bent on gaming the regulatory system. There are laws and processes in place, and the need to be followed, regardless of one’s political bent.”

We wrote Friday about MBT’s lawsuit against the state Department of Ecology over a denied water permit. Seattle Times reporter Hal Bernton puts the tidelands decision in context

That sublease was denied last January by outgoing Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark, who found that the developer — Millennium Bulk Terminals — failed to provide enough financial information and details of how the sublease would be structured…

Last month the state Department of Ecology denied a water-quality permit, and Millennium Bulk Terminals is challenging that both in an appeal and a separate lawsuit filed this week.

Millennium officials have said that some state regulatory agencies have invented rules and been biased against the terminal that they contend could benefit Seattle by reducing the number of coal trains headed north through the Puget Sound area for export from British Columbia.

The regulatory hurdles have reached unprecedented heights with respect to the MBT facility.