Longview Coal Terminal Under Review This Week in Spokane

By Paige Browning

The statewide hearings about coal exports come to Spokane Wednesday night. The topic this time is a proposed coal export terminal in Longview Washington, which would have potential to export 44-million tons of coal per year.
 
Coal would move by rail from Montana and Wyoming, make a pit stop at the Longview terminal, then be exported to Asia. Sally Toteff is a regional director for Washington’s Department of Ecology, and sits on the review board for the terminal.
 
Toteff: “Each proposal is site specific with its facts, its potential adverse impacts, with whether it has impacts to water, land, air, or the community.”
 
The team reviewing this proposal is different from the group than those reviewing the proposal in Blaine, Washington. That hearing happened last December. Toteff says ecology, the Army Corps of Engineers, and Cowlitz County have teamed up to conduct a full review of the proposal.
 
Toteff: “We’re here now in the listening mode, because we want to understand what are the areas of study that they think we outta make sure we cover.”
 
In Spokane, about 90 people will be able to speak, as decided by a lottery drawing. But Toteff wants it to be very clear that written comments, by mail or in person, are considered just as much as verbal ones.
 
Before the hearing, the groups Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports, and Power Past Coal, have planned opposing rallies before the hearing. Alliance spokesperson Lauri Hennessey says the Longview terminal would provide almost 3,000 jobs. Most would be construction, and 300 would be ongoing.
 
Hennessey: “If these projects happen they’re going to give us new export capacity. Yes they will ship coal, but down the line there are other things we can ship, and those things will benefit Spokane because it’s a community that cares about ag and exporting products.”
 
But Power Past Coal, and organizer Jace Bylenga, are fueled with a range of concerns. Bylenga says the terminal would bring up to 40 coal carrying trains a day.

Bylenga: “These trains are the longest trains on the track; they’re about a mile and a half long. So that brings up a lot of questions on, can our infrastructure handle that traffic. Also, any place you have to drive over the railroad tracks and wait for a train if it’s coming by, there’s going to be a lot more delays. You know, with fires and medical issues, minutes can matter.”
 
The public hearing on the Longview proposal is Wednesday at the Spokane Convention Center. Lottery tickets will be given out at 4:00 p.m., and public testimony goes from 5:00-8:00 p.m.

Longview, WA proposal for the Millenium Bulk Terminals: http://www.millenniumbulkeiswa.gov/

Submit comments online: http://www.millenniumbulkeiswa.gov/submit-comments.html

Previous coverage: Arguments For and Against Cherry Point Terminal Heard In Spokane

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