Vancouver hearing on coal terminal draws 1,000

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Judging by the color of their T-shirts, foes of a coal export terminal proposed for Longview, far outnumbered supporters at a Wednesday night hearing in Vancouver.

The fourth of five statewide hearings drew an estimated 1,000 people, The Columbian reported. As before, two well-organized groups showed up — opponents dressed in red and supporters wearing blue.

The $643 million Millennium Bulk Terminals facility would export coal to Asia from the former Reynolds Aluminum smelter site on the Columbia River.

Opponents are concerned about environmental risks. Supporters cite job and trade benefits.

Washougal City Councilor Paul Greenlee said increased coal train traffic would cut his town in half and the city is also concerned about coal dust and other pollution issues.

Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview is owned by Ambre Energy and Arch Coal Inc. It seeks to export as much as 44 million metric tons of coal annually.

The Millennium facility would generate more than 1,000 construction jobs and 135 permanent jobs when complete, the company says.

“We need the jobs,” said Washougal resident Dave Ritchey of Laborers Union Local 335. “It’s about the jobs, the economy.”

Camas resident Rick Marshall, a real estate developer, said the proposal “does not benefit us in any way.”

Coal is “the most toxic fossil fuel we have and we have better ways of generating electricity,” he said.

The fifth hearing to set the scope of the environmental impact statement is set for Oct. 17 in Tacoma.

The first hearing, in Longview, drew an estimated 1,300 people, said Linda Kent, a state Department of Ecology spokeswoman. Prior to Wednesday, officials had received more than 14,700 comments, she said. Other meetings took place in Spokane and Pasco.

The Longview terminal is one of three sites in the Northwest proposed to ship coal from Montana and Wyoming to Asia. The others are at Cherry Point near Bellingham and at Boardman, Ore.

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Information from: The Columbian, http://www.columbian.com

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