For Immediate Release
Citizens from Across Pacific Northwest Speak Out Against Proposal for Largest Coal Export Terminal in North America
Dec. 1, 2016 (Longview, WA) — Today the Environmental Protection Agency gave an “inadequate” rating, its lowest opinion possible, to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export facility.
The EPA criticized the narrow scope of the Army Corps review, saying that it did not take into account the project’s full impacts on air and water quality, rail traffic, greenhouse gas emissions and tribal fishing. The agency said the federal review lacks the scope of the Washington State Department of Ecology’s review, which wrapped up this spring and looked at the “cradle to grave” impacts of the project: from the increased coal mining in Wyoming and Montana, to the 16 new coal trains traveling through communities along the rail line, to the greenhouse gasses released when the coal is burned in Asia.
“EPA found the Army Corps’ review was “Inadequate” –the lowest ranking possible. The Army Corps flat out ignored recommendations from Tribes, cities, environmental groups, and the EPA to fix their incomplete scope of impacts associated with what would be the largest coal export terminal in North America,” stated Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director of Columbia Riverkeeper. “Air quality, noise impacts, greenhouse gas emissions, rail congestion and safety are just a few of the areas where EPA calls out the Army Corps’ failures. This should serve as a wake up call to the Corps.”
The EPA suggested that the Army Corps revise the DEIS and allow for continued public comment. Public comment for this review came to an end this week, with a Final Environmental Impact Statement expected sometime in 2017.
The Longview project would be the largest coal export terminal in North America, transporting up to 44 million tons of coal, equivalent to seven new coal-fired power plants, to markets in Asia that are rapidly turning away from coal and towards other energy sources.
“I was jumping for joy when I read that the EPA has stood up for the Highlands Neighborhood and all rail-impacted communities,” said Ambre DiGerlando a resident of Longview living in the “severe/moderate noise impacted area” of Millennium Bulk Terminal. “We need strong leadership like this to protect our community from the un-mitigatable impacts of coal export.”
Citizens from across the Pacific Northwest submitted comments to the Army Corps during the DEIS process. Some highlights include:
“Our tribe carries natural resource management authorities, rights and obligations within the Columbia Basin that would be impacted by the alternative presented in the Draft EIS. The proposed coal terminal is another threat to our way of life, culture and subsequently our future generations’ right to the use and enjoyment of natural resources within our homelands.” – Bill Iyall, Chairman of the Cowlitz Tribe
“The scope of the DEIS is very narrowly drawn and lacks any consideration of the impacts of the substantial increase in rail transport – particularly transport of coal by rail – through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. These impacts represent a connected action directly associated with the operation of proposed coal export terminal. We strongly urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to include a full analysis and disclosure of the potential effects of the increased rail traffic and the transport of this large volume of coal by rail through the CRGNSA.” – Lynn Burditt, Area Manager for Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
“The project harms our health and safety, air and water quality, and natural resources and the scope of the DEIS is completely insufficient. The DEIS acknowledges that the proposed project would result in 16 more trains per day – 8 full of coal and 8 empty trains – into and out of the project area. However, the DEIS impermissibly focuses on very small areas of potential impact for its analysis of the adverse effects of the additional 5,840 trains that would run as a result of the project.” – Adriana Voss-Andreae, 350PDX
“The DEIS ignores all impacts on the protected scenic, natural, recreation, and cultural resources of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (NSA). The entire point of an EIS is to disclose all of the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of a proposed project. Excluding the foreseeable impacts on the protected resources of the Gorge is impermissible and baffling.” – Nick Hogan, City Administrator for City of Stevenson, Washington
“Coal burned abroad yields pollution that returns to the Pacific Northwest and enters the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. Our citizens spend time recreating and working in areas through which these uncovered coal trains will pass, including Portland, Oregon, and the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Regrettably, the DEIS does not do a complete or adequate job in disclosing these concerns. Impacts to Oregon are not even considered.” – Mark Gamba, Mayor of Milwaukie, Oregon
POWER PAST COAL is an ever-growing alliance of health, environmental, clean-energy, faith and community groups and businesses working to stop coal export off the West Coast. Powerpastcoal.org @powerpastcoal
July 20, 2016. KGW News.
Blog post by Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, Riverkeeper’s Community Organizer—
April 14, 2014. Oregon’s only crude oil terminal is taking more heat for their dangerous crude oil terminal on the Columbia River. Riverkeeper and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC), as well as farmers who make a living near the oil terminal, agree that the oil company’s plan, currently under review by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), doesn’t go far enough to protect the Columbia River or local water supplies from an oil spill.
Both Riverkeeper and NEDC submitted comments to DEQ about the oil spill plan and criticized the plan’s lack of financial assurances for spill response, and the lack of funding for local emergency responders who are underequipped to deal with a crude oil fire, explosion or spill.
“Recent accidents prove that response time is essential to limiting damage from an oil spill,” stated Marla Nelson, Legal Fellow for NEDC. “This plan fails to demonstrate that Global is taking the risk of an oil spill seriously.”
Farmers near the new crude oil terminal also stand to lose if oil spills into local waterways. Mike Seely, owner of a mint farm near the crude oil terminal, casts a worried eye towards his new neighbor. “I couldn’t harvest a marketable mint crop, maybe for years, if there was a major oil spill that impacted our irrigation water,” said Seely.
Global Partners LP has a history of flaunting environmental and safety regulations. In March, Oregon DEQ fined the Port Westward crude oil terminal for illegally shipping 250 million gallons of crude in 2013, a violation of its air pollution permit. Global Partners LP applied for a new air emission permit with DEQ that would allow it to expand oil shipment to 1.8 billion gallons annually, or 50 full trains a month. The comment period for this application closes May 5, 2014. Submit your air emission permit comment here! Riverkeeper and NEDC plan to comment on that permit as well. The deadline for comments on the Oil Spill Contingency Plan is May 1, 2014.
Full comments by Riverkeeper are available here: http://columbiariverkeeper.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/2014.4.11-Columbia-Riverkeeper-Comments-on-Globals-Oil-Spill-Contingency-Plan.pdf
Full comments by NEDC are available here: http://law.lclark.edu/centers/northwest_environmental_defense_center/projects/oil-transport-in-the-pacific-northwest/
The proposed Oil Spill Contingency Plan is available here: http://www.oregon.gov/deq/LQ/Pages/Columbia/spillplan.aspx
The Daily News. April 4, 2014.
Blog post by Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, Riverkeeper’s Community Organizer—
March 21, 2014. The oil terminal along the Columbia River at Port Westward has been, and continues, operating outside the law by moving more explosive Bakken crude oil than their current air pollution permit allows. According to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the crude oil company Global Partners (aka “the Columbia Pacific Biorefinery”) violated air quality laws by moving nearly six times more crude oil than their permit allows.
Global Partners is now applying for a new permit with DEQ to bring 1.8 billion gallons of oil annually through Columbia County, enough to fill 50 trains per month. Submit a comment about Global’s attempt to increase crude oil train traffic. DEQ will be accepting comments through 5:00PM on May 5.
Recent oil spills and train explosions pose serious threats to rail communities. Last year, 47 people were killed in Lac Megantic, Quebec, when a unit train of crude oil, identical to those traveling to Port Westward, from the Bakken region derailed and exploded. Additional derailments and explosions in Alabama and North Dakota of Bakken crude oil trains have raised alarms at local, state and federal levels across the nation, including a moratorium on new crude oil infrastructure in Albany, New York, where Global Partners operates a Bakken crude oil terminal.
The Oregonian. March 3, 2014.
On Tuesday, November 12th, over 80 people from Astoria, Warrenton, Forest Grove, Yamhill, and Washington state urged Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to use its authority to reject the Oregon LNG project. We sent a clear message to DEQ: Oregonians and Washingtonians oppose Oregon LNG and the pollution it would create. Attendees asked pointed questions about how DEQ can use its authority to protect water quality, salmon habitat, and air quality in its review of the proposed Oregon LNG export terminal. The hearing occurred only weeks after Clatsop County Commissioners voted unanimously to reject the Oregon LNG pipeline. Oregon LNG cannot build its proposed LNG export terminal without air and water pollution permits and DEQ has the authority to deny them.
Check out Riverkeeper’s letter to DEQ on Oregon LNG’s proposed water pollution permit.
Oregon LNG’s Proposed Pollution Permits
- Stormwater Pollution Permit: This permit would authorize Oregon LNG to discharge dirty stormwater to the Columbia and Skipanon Rivers while building the terminal.
- Process Wastewater Permit: This permit would allow Oregon LNG to discharge millions of gallons of polluted water and stormwater every day of the year. This includes hot water, ammonia, copper and other toxic pollutants.
- Air Pollution Permit: This permit would give the green light for air pollution from compressors, vaporizers, ships, harbor tugs, support vehicles, gas-turbines, construction dust and a number of other sources. LNG tankers and the security vessels that accompany them are required to run their engines during the entire cargo loading cycle, spewing exhaust and air.
As the marathon 12 hour hearing on Australian-owned Ambre Energy’s Morrow Pacific coal export project came to a close on July 9th, hundreds of citizens converged outside the Oregon Convention Center in Portland for a People’s Hearing and rally. That day, inside the Convention Center, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) provided two rooms for the public to testify. The room’s capacity was limited so only a handful of observers could enter and hear citizen testimony. Speaking slots were filled via online sign ups and a very small number of ‘walk-ins’ were accepted.
The resounding testimonial both inside the Convention Center and outside at the People’s Hearing was that DEQ has the power to fully study the impacts of the proposed Morrow Pacific coal export project. Yet, DEQ is choosing to limit the scope of their review to just the Port of Morrow. This approach does not serve Oregonians. DEQ must fully analyze all impacts of this controversial coal export project and deny the permits.
The DEQ hearing in eastern Oregon regarding the Morrow Pacific project was also held on July 9th for a 12 hour duration in the town of Hermiston. This hearing drew project opponents from near and far. Residents of eastern Washington and Idaho traveled to Hermiston to inform DEQ about the broad impacts of the Morrow Pacific project. For these residents, the coal export project would bring up to five coal trains per day rumbling through their cities.
Tell DEQ to stop dirty coal – deny the permits!
DEQ has opened a public comment period on draft air quality permits for the controversial Morrow Pacific coal export project proposed by Ambre Energy. The comment period runs through August 12th.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
(1) Sign the Petition
Tell DEQ to use their authority to protect Oregon from dirty coal export by signing this petition.
(2) Attend a Public Hearing + Portland Rally
Public hearings will be held on July 9 from 8AM-8PM in both Portland and Hermiston, Oregon. Click here for details about the public hearings. And, DEQ is requiring those that want to testify at a hearing to register beforehand – REGISTER NOW!
There will be a rally in Portland outside the hearing at 5:30PM – please wear red to the rally!
Ambre Energy’s proposed Morrow Pacific coal export terminal would result in coal dust and diesel emissions that would likely exceed National Ambient Air Quality Standards and worsen pollution in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, where air quality is currently suffering from air pollution. The proposal would result in doubling barge traffic on the Columbia River, harming salmon, river recreation and navigation. Due to concerns over these likely impacts, local governments, tribes, federal agencies and elected officials, including Congressmen Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio, have called for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement on the project.
Hermiston Herald. December 1, 2012.