Meetings planned on Longview coal terminal

Vancouver among five cities where gatherings scheduled

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LONGVIEW — Five public meetings have been scheduled across Washington in September and October to give people a chance to comment on plans for a terminal at Longview that would export coal from Montana and Wyoming.

The scoping meetings are intended to identify issues to be analyzed in an environmental impact statement for the $643 million Millennium Bulk Terminals dock.

The meetings were scheduled in areas that may see an increase in coal trains, The Daily News reported.

Meetings were announced Tuesday for Sept. 17 in Longview, Sept. 25 in Spokane, Oct. 2 in Pasco, Oct. 9 in Vancouver, and Oct. 17 in Tacoma.

Three agencies -- the Corps of Engineers, state Ecology Department and Cowlitz County -- are responsible for deciding the scope of the study and issuing permits for the project on the former Reynolds aluminum smelter site on the Columbia River. The permit process is expected to take up to two years.

Last fall, hundreds of people attended similar meetings on the proposed Gateway Pacific coal terminal in Whatcom County. A smaller coal terminal is proposed on the Columbia River at Boardman, Ore. Three other coal terminal proposals in the Northwest have dropped out.

Coal from the Powder River Basin already is being shipped to British Columbia where ports also are considering expansion.

Coal train opponents raise concerns about dust, congestion and climate change. Supporters say exports will bring jobs and increase trade.

The corps has rejected calls for a comprehensive review of the three remaining terminal proposals, saying that's outside the agency's scope.