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Coal: Hearing in Longview draws a crowd

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Posted: Saturday, October 12, 2013 2:07 am

Environmental and community impacts of the proposed coal train were some of the topics discussed at a public hearing held in Longview, Wash., Wednesday, Oct. 9. About 1,000 Cowlitz County residents attended the six-hour public forum, where both the opposition and supporting sides of the issue were given opportunities to make their claims.

Smaller than the proposed Cherry Point facility in Whatcom County, the Longview terminal site would be at the former Reynolds Aluminum Smelter in Cowlitz County. It is estimated that this terminal would transport 44 million tons of coal from Wyoming and Montana overseas to Asia.

The Longview terminal may create 165 permanent new jobs in Cowlitz County and is estimated that the site will generate $2.2 million in state tax revenue, as well as $1.7 million in county tax revenues, according to project developer Millennium Bulk Terminals. However the increased train traffic and the dropping price of coal may downsize the positive economic impacts of the coal terminal.

Environmental impacts of coal export in Longview have been discussed similarly to that of the proposed Cherry Point facility, including the potential degradation to wetlands where keystone species reside. Opponents of the terminal also expressed concern for the increased train traffic. They asked the scoping agencies to take in to consideration all the communities along the coal train route and not just Longview.

The Environment Impact Statement for the Longview terminal has not been released yet. The statement will include reviews of impacts on the environment, human health, wetlands and pollution, among other things.

The final hearing for the Millennium Bulk Terminal will be held in Tacoma, Oct. 17.  The environmental scoping period for the terminal ends November 18, 2013.

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