Meet Ross Bhappu, the money behind coal export proposals on the Columbia River

by Joe Smyth

February 25, 2014

Coal trains pass each other in Campbell County. Coal trains are typically a mile long with 100 tons of coal in each of the 100 - 120 cars of the unit train.

© Greenpeace / Tim Aubry

The coal industrys efforts to export huge amounts of taxpayer-owned coal from Montana and Wyoming to Asia has generated unprecedented opposition in the Pacific Northwest - tens of thousands of people have rallied, attended public hearings, and called on their elected officials to oppose coal export terminals that would disrupt and pollute communities and pose one of the biggest threats to the climate of any fossil fuel project in the world.

This controversy, along with the high risk nature of these proposals, has meant that many investors have avoided backing them. A major signal of these investor concerns came in January 2014, when Goldman Sachs dropped its coal export investment, especially since it followed a report from Goldman Sachs own analysts titled The window for thermal coal investment is closing.

But one key coal export investor apparently hasnt yet received the memo. Ross Bhappu, a partner at a Denver-based private equity firm called Resource Capital Funds, has been the main source of money for Ambre Energy, the shaky Australian company behind two of the three remaining coal export proposals in Oregon and Washington, the Millennium Bulk Terminal and Morrow Pacific Project proposals on the Columbia River. Thats why ten community and environmental groups wrote a letter to Ross Bhappu last month, calling on him and his firm to drop its investment in Ambre Energy and its controversial and risky coal export proposals.

Thats also why weve launched a new website, The website details how Ross Bhappu has used a $110 million bet on Ambre Energy - along with the companys difficulties attracting other outside investment - to take more control of the company at the expense of other shareholders. We want to make sure that elected officials, investors, and communities that would be impacted by coal export projects know who is bankrolling these proposals. So check out the new website, read the details about Ross Bhappus bet on coal exports, and help us share the information. Well update the site with the latest news, so if you have a tip, let us know. crossposted from

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