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Has State Delivered Final Nail to Coffin of WA Coal Terminal?

The Millennium Bulk Terminal that was slated to be built in Longview would have shipped up to 44 million tons of coal a year to Asia. (Sam Beebe/Flickr)
The Millennium Bulk Terminal that was slated to be built in Longview would have shipped up to 44 million tons of coal a year to Asia. (Sam Beebe/Flickr)
September 27, 2017

LONGVIEW, Wash. - A proposal for what would be the largest coal-export terminal in North America might have sunk on Tuesday.

A coalition of community, tribal and business leaders is hailing the Washington Department of Ecology's decision to deny a water-quality permit to developers of the Millennium Bulk Terminal, which was slated to be built in Longview.

Earthjustice staff attorney Jan Hasselman said the director of the agency focused on nine adverse impacts found in an environmental review of the project, including oil spills.

"That ranged from increased cancer risk for nearby residents to environmental justice impacts to risk of train accidents and excessive train traffic," he said.

The Ecology Department said it considered these factors unavoidable. The Millennium Bulk Terminal would have shipped up to 44 million tons of coal a year to Asian markets, the pollution equivalent of adding 8 million cars to the road.

Millennium's president and chief executive has said the denial is an economic blow to the Longview area and the company plans to plans to appeal.

According to Hasselman, the people of Washington raised their voices on this project - and that's ultimately what doomed it.

"They spoke through hearings, in hundreds of thousands of comment letters to the regulatory agencies, saying, 'This project is too risky, it's too harmful. Let's turn the page on this 19th-century fuel source and embrace a future without fossil fuels,' " he said.

Earlier this year, the Washington Department of Natural Resources denied the same project a lease necessary to operate on the Columbia River, dealing it another major blow. Millennium sued the agency over that decision and will head to court in October. However, Hasselman said Millennium faces an extreme uphill battle to overturn it.

The Department of Ecology decision is online at ecy.wa.gov.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA