A draft Environmental Impact Statement for Millennium Bulk Terminals’ Longview coal export terminal will be released April 29, and public comments will be accepted through June 13, according to the Washington Department of Ecology.
The draft environmental review, produced by the Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County, will include information on the potential environmental impacts of the much-debated project. The document is required under the state Environmental Quality Act.
Millennium Bulk Terminals has proposed building a Columbia River export terminal at the site of the former Reynolds Aluminum Smelter in Cowlitz County that could handle up to 44 million metric tons of coal per year. Coal would arrive on trains traveling from Wyoming and Montana — and through Vancouver — to Longview. It would then be shipped to customers primarily in Asia.
The project has faced strong organized opposition over issues including blowing coal dust, congestion at rail crossings, and the impact of coal-generated energy consumption on global climate change. The county and the Department of Ecology had planned to release a draft environmental impact statement for the project in November, but couldn’t meet that deadline.
“The draft study evaluates impacts and risks, and soon it will be time for the community to review and comment on the findings,” said Elaine Placido, Cowlitz County’s director of building and planning, in a news release.
Once released, the public can read and download the draft environmental study at www.millenniumbulkeiswa.gov.
Three days of public hearings are planned: May 24 in Cowlitz County, at the county Event Center; May 26 in Spokane, and June 2 in Pasco, with an open house and information available at each event.
All of the sessions will begin with presentations from 1 to 5 p.m., followed by public comments up to 9 p.m. Speakers will be limited to two minutes. Comments also can be provided to a court reporter or in written format.
The public will have 45 days, and several ways, to comment on the draft environmental review. Comments can be submitted online and by mail at any time during the comment period from April 29 to June 13.
Only comments received during the official comment period will be considered by the agencies. The comments should provide feedback on the studies and analysis in the environmental review.
After the comment period ends, all comments will be reviewed and considered for the final EIS. When the final EIS is released, then the permitting process would begin for required local, state and federal permits.
Cowlitz County and Ecology are lead agencies studying the potential environmental impacts of the proposal. A separate draft federal EIS is being prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.