The Madisonville, Ky.-based company had planned to locate the terminal near West Paducah. But local opponents, with the help of the Sierra Club, mobilized against the company’s request to rezone a 400-acre block of land along the river from “rural residential” to heavy industrial. Among the terminal’s foes was the Harrah’s Casino across the river at Metropolis, Ill.

In late May 2011, the McCracken County Fiscal Court voted 3-2 to deny the rezoning. That marked at least the third time the court, the county’s elected governing body, had blocked the terminal over the past several years.

But instead of giving up, SCH regrouped. The company found another location, not far away, that already was zoned industrial and bought the 230 acres from Paducah Economic Development, the economic development agency for Paducah and McCracken County.

This summer, SCH finally was issued a crucial Section 404 Clean Water Act permit by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The permit was the final piece of the regulatory puzzle for the company, allowing it to move to the construction phase, according to William Rager, SCH COO.

Rager said construction is expected to take 12 to 16 months to complete, but the terminal almost certainly will be operational sometime in 2014. Once it is in business, the rail-to-barge facility will be capable of loading coal for shipment along the river to domestic customers or into the export market, he said.

SCH got its start in 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.