Local opponents, aided by the Sierra Club, however, have mobilized in protest of a SCH request to rezone a 400-acre area along the river from “rural residential” to heavy industrial. The terminal’s foes include the Harrah’s Casino across the river at Metropolis, Ill.

In Q2 2011, a McCracken County Court voted 3-2 to deny the rezoning application, making it the third time the county’s elected governing body had blocked the terminal. SCH, however, continued in its efforts, finding another nearby location already zoned industrial, and purchased a 2,300-acre site there from Paducah Economic Development, the economic development agency for Paducah and McCracken County.

This summer, SCH officials were issued a crucial Section 404 Clean Water Act permit by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It was the company’s final regulatory requirement, allowing it to move to construction, according to William Rager, SCH’s COO. This work, said Rager, will last up to 16 months, and will be operational by Q4 2014. The rail-to-barge facility, he added, will enable shipment to both domestic customers and the export market.

SCH LLC dates back to the early 1990s when Southern Coal Handling was formed as a terminal development company by John Hunt, who then acquired a minority stake in the company. Hunt became the sole owner in 1995.