The Army Corp announced on Friday that county, state and federal officials would still work together on a review of the terminal as planned, however, two EISs will be produced, one by the Corps and one by the state Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County.
The move follows the state’s decision to expand the scope of the study to include global greenhouse gas emissions and train traffic concerns.
"It made sense to do two separate documents but continue the collaborative process," Corps spokeswoman Patricia Graesser told The Associated Press.
"Basically, our scope is quite narrow in comparison with what the (state) review will be looking at and that difference did lead us to look at whether a joint document is the best path forward."
The Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports industry lobby group said last week that the state’s plans were measuring coal exports against “an unprecedented yardstick”
“The agency maintains it has the right to inject big-picture political concerns into what ordinarily would be a technical review of local environmental issues and that it can frame its criteria as it chooses – even if it means no developer can possibly address its concerns,” the alliance said in a statement.
The group praised the Corps decision but environmental groups vocally shunned the federal agency’s move, saying it showed “a total absence of leadership”.
If the project becomes a reality it will export about 44 million tons of coal annually and provide 130 full-time jobs.
There will also be more than 2000 jobs during construction.
A public comment period on the project is open and will run to November 18.
A series of five public meetings will also be held on the project, beginning with the Cowlitz County Event Center in Longview on September 17.
There were initially six planned facilities but tough market conditions and environmental opposition have proven challenging for terminal developers.
The three proposed developments that remain are the Coyote Island project at the port of Morrow, Oregon; the Millennium bulk terminal at Longview, Washington; and the Gateway Pacific terminal near Bellingham, Washington.
Combined, the terminals would have the ability to ship a projected 110Mt of coal to Asia annually.