Stopping Coal in the Pacific NW

coal imageThe U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently released their Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Millennium Bulk Terminals’ proposed coal export terminal. The Longview project would be the largest coal export terminal in North America.

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The Army Corps’ review focuses narrowly on the project’s impacts at the terminal site, ignoring pollution and safety effects from sixteen new trains traveling through Spokane, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, and dozens of communities along the rail line. Because the Army Corps fails to analyze rail line impacts, they ignore the massive dust loss from open-top coal trains – an average of 500 pounds per car. Unlike an environmental review released earlier this year by Washington state and Cowlitz County, the Corps’ review ignores climate impacts from mining and burning 44 million tons of coal per year.

Highlights from the Army Corps’ DEIS:

Narrow Study Area Ignores Project’s Impacts

  • Coal Train Impacts Study Area: The rail corridor study area only looks at impacts through the Longview industrial area, which was defined as the Reynolds Lead and BNSF Spur between the project areas and BNSF main line (at Longview Junction). DEIS at 6.1-2; 7-31. The DEIS ignores the impacts of sixteen new coal trains per day (8 loaded, 8 unloaded)–the equivalent of 5,840 new trains per year.
  • The Corps ignores the impacts of Millennium’s rail traffic on Spokane, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, and dozens of communities along the rail line.
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions Study Area: “The study area for the cumulative impacts from greenhouse gas emissions is the same as the air quality cumulative study area: the On-Site Alternative and Off-Site Alternative project areas, Reynolds Lead and BNSF Spur rail corridor, and the lower Columbia River.” DEIS at 6.8-5; 7-48. In contrast, Washington state’s DEIS concluded that the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions from the project are equivalent to over seven coal-fired power plants (27 million tons per year net carbon dioxide emissions).

Millennium’s Disproportionate Impact on Minority, Low-Income Community

  • DEIS concludes Millennium would have a disproportionately high and adverse effect on minority and low-income populations near the terminal site. DEIS at ES-9.

Corps Ignores the Impacts of Coal Dust, Rail Traffic on Tribes

  • Corps fails to consider the impacts of 16 coal trains on tribal members that fish along the Columbia upstream of the terminal. The BNSF and Union Pacific rail lines run along the Columbia. See DEIS at 7-18.

More Train Accidents

  • The DEIS concludes that Millennium’s coal train traffic would result in more accidents, concluding the project would result in one accident every two years. DEIS at ES-6.

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