Environmental reviews delayed for Millennium coal export project in Washington

The Washington Department of Ecology said in an Oct. 15 posting to its website that environmental impact statements for a proposed coal export terminal, instead of being out in November as expected, will be issued at an unspecified point in the future.

Millennium Bulk Terminals–Longview LLC (MBTL), with members Ambre Energy North America and Arch Coal, has submitted an application for a proposed coal export terminal at the site of the former Reynolds Aluminum smelter in Cowlitz County. The terminal would ultimately export up to 44 million metric tons of coal annually.

The Ecology Dept. and Cowlitz County are co-lead agencies preparing an EIS under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing a separate EIS under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Ecology and Cowlitz County are coordinating closely with the Corps, including sharing an EIS website and EIS consultant.

The SEPA and NEPA Draft EISs are not anticipated to be delivered or released in November 2015 as previously forecast. The revised delivery date for the Draft EISs is under discussion by the co-lead agencies and will be posted on this website. No dates have been set for the public comment period yet.

This is one of several coal export projects, involving transfer of mostly Powder River Basin coal from rail to ocean-going vessel, that has run into heavy environmental opposition in recent years. Environmental and citizens groups say the trains will shed coal dust on the way to the terminals, the terminals themselves will involve pollution, and this coal when burned in foreign power plants will emit CO2, a greenhouse gas. 

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.