Judge: Army 
Corps must 
release coal 
documents

It will have taken nearly two years, but an environmental group will finally get the documents it wanted about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers review of a proposed Oregon coal export terminal.

A federal judge on Thursday ordered the agency to produce more than 300 pages of documents sought by Columbia Riverkeeper about Ambre Energy’s planned terminal to send 8.8 million tons of coal annually to Asia.

The environmental group requested information from the Army Corps under the federal Freedom of Information Act in November 2012. The group’s attorneys wanted to know why the agency settled on a less stringent environmental review for the proposed coal terminal in Boardman than for two in Washington state.

The Army Corps withheld some or all of 341 documents. Riverkeeper sued to get them in August.

Federal magistrate judge Paul Papak ordered their release Thursday, saying the agency had failed to back up claims that the documents should be exempt from disclosure.

“This is really good news for us,” Riverkeeper attorney Miles Johnson said. “It’s a big win for the Columbia and government transparency. The court rejected almost every argument the Corps made about why it should be able to keep the documents secret.”

No deadline was set for the Army Corps to provide the documents. An agency spokesman said he had not yet seen the ruling and had no comment.

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