Millennium going under the microscope

REGULATORS have scheduled a series of five public meetings in the Pacific Northwest to collect input on the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals coal facility near Longview.
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Image courtesy of Millennium Bulk Terminals

Donna Schmidt

The US Army Corps of Engineers, the Washington Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County Regulators said the meetings were required under the scoping phase of the $643 million project, a step designed to identify needed factors and issues to be evaluated in its environmental impact assessment.

The three said the meetings were set for areas that could potentially experience more rail traffic from the powder River Basin should Millennium come to pass.

The gatherings will begin September 17 in Longview at the Cowlitz Expo Center.

The Spokane Convention Center will be the venue for a September 25 hearing and on October 2, members of the public can come to the Trac Center in Pasco.

The final two meetings in the string will be October 9 in Vancouver at the Clark County Fairgrounds and October 17 in Tacoma at the Tacoma Convention Center.

Agency and company officials project the permitting of the terminal could take as long as two years.

Last month, the ACOE rejected a push for an overall comprehensive review of the three remaining proposed coal terminals in the Pacific Northwest: Millennium, Gateway Pacific and Ambre Energy’s Port Westward facility.

Regulatory program acting chief Jennifer Moyer said at a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power that, while environmentalists had asked for a probe into cumulative impacts of exporting, the trio of projects in Washington and Oregon were not similar to one another.

“Although the proposed shipping facilities share a similar purpose, the facts and circumstances related to each differ substantially," Moyer said.

“Each of the three proposed facilities would cause very different types of impacts.”

All three of the projects would, if they come to pass, ship Powder River Basin coal, railed from origin mines, to Asian markets.

There were initially six planned facilities. The three that remain are the Coyote Island project at Port of Morrow, Oregon; the Millennium Bulk Terminal at Longview, Washington; and the Gateway Pacific Terminal near Bellingham, Washington.

While the three are close to one another, Moyer told the committee that a regional review to examine all three simultaneously had “no compelling justification”

“They are independent projects in different locations, whose impacts are not related,” she said, noting that some of the impacts opponents have shown concerns over are outside of its jurisdiction.

If the terminals were approved and constructed, they would create more than 11,000 jobs in the Pacific Northwest region, National Association of Manufacturers vice president of energy and resources policy Ross Eisenberg told the Associated Press in late June.

His group supports the Army Corps’ decision.

Combined, the terminals would have the ability to ship a projected 110 million tons of coal to Asia annually.

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