EPA: Federal Review of Longview Coal Export Terminal “Inadequate”

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

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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

 


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