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Public Hearing in Pasco on Massive Coal-Export Terminal

At full strength, a proposed coal-export terminal in Longview would ship 44 million tons of coal overseas each year. (Sam Beebe/Ecotrust)
At full strength, a proposed coal-export terminal in Longview would ship 44 million tons of coal overseas each year. (Sam Beebe/Ecotrust)
June 2, 2016

PASCO, Wash. – Supporters and opponents are gathering in Pasco today for the final public hearing on a massive coal-export terminal in Longview.

Meetings were held in Longview and Spokane last week after the release of an environmental impact study by the Washington State Department of Ecology of the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals.

Beth Doglio, co-director of advocacy group Power Past Coal, attended the first meeting in Longview and says a variety of opponents made themselves heard.

"There are Native Americans who feel their fishing rights are potentially threatened by this project,” she points out. “There's parents, and kids, and grandparents, community members, faith leaders, all saying this is a bad idea and not the right direction for our state and for Longview."

Supporters say the terminal would bring much needed local jobs to Longview.

If completed, the terminal would ship 44 million tons of coal to overseas markets.

The report was critical of the project's impact, noting it wasn't possible to completely mitigate environmental damage.

The project would increase rail traffic by up to 16 cars a day, according to the environmental study.

Pasco, like Spokane, is hosting public hearings because the cities act like funnels for the increased coal-train traffic.

In Spokane, Doglio says people came from neighboring states to voice their concerns about the impact on local rail traffic.

"Our train system wasn't built with this kind of capacity in mind,” she stresses. “It intersects communities right down the middle, small communities. So, lots of impacts for very little payoff."

Last week, one time backer Arch Coal announced it was giving up its stake in the project. Arch Coal declared bankruptcy earlier this year.

The public can submit comment on the Millennium Bulk Terminals through June 13.



Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA