The Vancouver City Council approved a resolution opposing the proposed Millennium coal terminal on Monday night.
The terminal is slated for Longview, but would bring up to eight coal-laden trains at 125 cars each through Vancouver every day, according to a state environmental review. Likewise, the terminal operations would generate eight empty trains per day.
“It’s straightforward why we’re doing this right now,” Vancouver City Councilor Jack Burkman said. “We have a community that is in the process of approving a terminal and that terminal will increase the number of unit trains going through our community.”
The council approved the resolution by a unanimous voice vote, though Councilor Bill Turlay appeared to abstain.
Laura Stevens, with the Sierra Club, was one of a handful of people who testified in favor of the resolution Monday night.
“I hope we can send a strong signal to decision makers … that coal trains passing through the communities on the rail line is not good for these communities,” Stevens said.
Those opposed to the coal terminal cited concerns about pollution and negative health effects, such as increased cases of asthma from the coal particulates.
Turlay, who doesn’t believe in human-caused global warming, opposed the resolution, citing a lack of evidence of any negative health side effects.
“I’ve walked these tracks to see if I could see coal dust; I (didn’t) see any coal dust,” Turlay said, adding the nation has been transporting coal by rail for more than a century without any problems.
Millennium wants to ship up to 44 million tons of coal annually from Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado to Asian markets from a rail-to-marine terminal along the Columbia River. The proposed project could generate up to 135 jobs in Cowlitz County.
Before voting in favor of the resolution, Councilor Ty Stober said he considered how the terminal could improve the region.
“I don’t see a benefit to our community,” he said. “I see lots and lots of impacts to our community.”
A federal environmental review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is underway. There’s a public hearing from 1 to 9 p.m. Oct. 24 in Longview.
The comment period is open through Nov. 29.