Longview council will decide whether to weigh in on coal terminal enviromental review

The Longview City Council will consider Thursday whether to join the list of groups calling for a comprehensive environmental review of proposed coal terminals in the Pacific Northwest.

At its regular meeting 7 p.m. Thursday at Longview City Hall, the council will vote on whether to send a letter to four federal agencies to request the review.

According to the letter, the city is concerned about increased vessel traffic on the Columbia River, water quality, fish health, airborne coal dust and increased rail traffic.

Six coal terminals have been proposed in Washington and Oregon: in Longview, Bellingham, Hoquiam, Coos Bay and two at Port Westward near Clatskanie.

The proposed $640 million Millennium Bulk Terminals coal dock lies just outside the city limits at the former Reynolds Metals Co. site, but the city would be affected by it, said Longview Councilwoman Mary Jane Melink, who is spearheading the request.

“We’re not isolated. We all live together in the same region of the country. Once the bell has been rung, and one of these (coal terminals) has been permitted, it can’t be unrung,” she said.

The letter would be sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, the EPA and the Washington departments of Ecology and Natural Resources have made similar requests.

Millennium attorneys have said they oppose a separate analysis of all Pacific Northwest terminals because it would likely be unworkable. They argue that the terminals are located in different areas on different waterways, which would make a single environmental analysis difficult.

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