New environmental review schedule for Millennium project

Cowlitz County and the Washington Department of Ecology have proposed a new environmental review schedule for the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview coal export facility.

 

Today’s decision to separate the federal and local/state timelines will allow Cowlitz County and Ecology to move forward more quickly. The county and state’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is now scheduled for release April 30, 2016.

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“We are committed to completing a thorough environmental review as quickly as possible, and separating our timelines is the best way for that to happen,” said Sally Toteff, Ecology’s regional director for southwest Washington. “We will continue to collaborate with our county and federal counterparts throughout the process.”

 

“Cowlitz County remains committed to a timely environmental review that recognizes the importance of a thorough and timely environmental review for continued economic development in Cowlitz County,” said Cowlitz County Commissioner Mike Karnofski.

 

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will continue preparing a thorough and timely federal EIS that complies fully with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. The federal Draft EIS is scheduled to be released in July 2016,” said David Martin, Regulatory Section Chief for the Corps.

 

Millennium’s proposed project would bring 16 new trains a day to Longview, 840 additional ships on the Columbia River annually, and ultimately export 44 million metric tons of coal a year.

 

Last week the co-lead agencies announced they wouldn’t meet the original November deadline to release the Draft EISs because of the need for additional technical analysis on the proposed project.

 

Areas needing more study include:

 

  • Risk of vessel incidents on the Columbia River due to the increase in ships
  • Impacts to vehicle traffic during peak travel times
  • Increased rail traffic through the Longview industrial corridor

 

Ecology and Cowlitz County agreed to the new schedule today. Millennium would need to approve the schedule change in a contract amendment. Meanwhile, work on the study continues. This includes completing a transportation analysis, developing possible mitigation measures, analyzing cumulative impacts, and reviews by state and local agencies.

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