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Goldman Sachs pulls out of proposed coal terminal

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A key financial supporter of largest proposed coal-export terminal in North America is backing out.

As U.S. demand for coal drops, coal companies are looking to sell their product oversees. But to get coal from Montana and Wyoming to Asia, the companies need export terminals.

Several have been proposed for the Pacific Northwest, the largest of them the Gateway Pacific Terminal north of Seattle. But now Goldman Sachs, a key financial supporter, is pulling out.

A pension fund managed by Goldman Sachs owned 49 percent of Carrix, Inc., the parent company behind the Gateway Pacific Terminal. But the fund has now sold its stake back to Carrix.

Here in the Northwest, proposals to build coal terminals have generated opposition from environmentalists, tribes and communities. They’re worried about climate change from the burning of more coal,as well as increases in coal train and ship traffic in their own region.

“It doesn’t surprise me that a bank that cares about its reputation and the impacts of its investments would want to stay away,” Amanda Starbuck, energy finance program director with Rainforest Action Network, said of the Goldman Sachs decision.

Goldman Sachs did not immediately respond to requests for an interview. But in a report last summer, Goldman analysts raised concerns about the financial viability of exporting coal.

The report predicted that China’s demand for coal imports will shrink as that country’s economic growth rate slows and its own coal supply ramps up. China’s also trying to boost renewable energy and reduce air pollution.

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