Millenium Bulk Logistics is backtracking – though not giving up – on its Longview coal export plan. In a press release sent out late this afternoon, the company announced it will retract the coal export terminal from its shoreline permit so the clean-up of the Chinook Ventures site can move forward while the coal project undergoes a complete environmental impact statement.
Washington’s Cowlitz County would head up the EIS - an assessment that project opponents have been calling for since the county first considered Millenium’s shoreline permit. The question now is whether the county will take global climate change into consideration.
Environmental groups protesting the coal export plan say the county failed to consider the global environmental implications of shipping coal to China to be burned for energy. They also criticized the pollution that would be created along the shipping route from the Powder River Basin to Longview. Opposition has grown shrill since documents revealed the company’s long-term plans to ship much more coal through the port than originally proposed.
Other parts of the company’s plans for the Longview site – namely a dock overhaul that will also serve the Wenatchee Alcoa plant – are less controversial. So, Millennium has agreed to a revised shoreline permit without coal export and coal export handling infrastructure. The resulting permit would be limited to handling alumina and cement, removing unpermitted structures on the dock and in the water, and repair and maintenance on the existing dock.
Millenium CEO Joe Cannon released this statement on the new plan:
“By moving forward with the noncontroversial pieces to this project, we can more quickly get people to work and begin the environmental clean-up of the site. We want to be very clear to the community that we are in Longview for the long haul. … Given the emerging and complex policy circumstances around the shipping of any bulk commodity, let alone coal, we will step back and do exactly what our detractors have asked for, a full EIS. But it is not fair to the community to completely halt economic development and the clean-up of this site over politics. Jobs shouldn’t be held hostage, instead we can find balance and move forward pragmatically.”