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Hearings Begin in Environmental Review of Longview Coal Terminal

Erin Hennessey photo
A coal train along the Columbia River, near Vancouver, WA

Scoping hearings begin tomorrow on a proposed coal export terminal in Longview,near the Columbia River.  It’s one of two Washington terminals that would ship coal from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming to Asia.

Washington’s other proposed coal terminal is in Cherry Point, near Bellingham. Federal and local authorities wrapped up scoping hearings on that project earlier this year and are now working on environmental impact statements, based on more than 100,000 comments they received.

For Longview, they’re just starting to gather comments.

“If citizens have concerns, this is the time to weigh in,” said Beth Doglio with the Power Past Coal campaign.

Power Past Coal is a coalition of about a hundred groups that have come together to fight the terminals. From mile-long trains that can snarl traffic and spill coal dust, to the carbon emissions associated with the coal-fired plants they feed, Doglio says the health of communities and the planet are at stake. The campaign aims to stop all new coal exports from the northwest coast.

“We need to be transitioning away from fossil fuels and towards a clean energy economy and this this is not moving us in that direction,” she said.

Doglio says the more people comment, the more likely it is that the state Department of Ecology will prepare a thorough environmental review with scoping that includes not just the impacts of the terminal itself, but also of the carbon emissions it fuels abroad. That’s what they have agreed to do for Cherry Point, even though the Army Corps of Engineers says that’s beyond the reach of federal law.

It’s not clear yet what the state will decide to do for Longview. Supporters of the terminal want a more limited scope. 

“We don’t think it’s consistent to ask how this one product affects climate change. Because we don’t ask that for any other commodity,” said Lauri Henessey with theAlliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports. Her group is also urging the community to come out for comments and in Longview, they expect a large contingent of people concerned about jobs.

Additional scoping hearings will take place all month in Spokane, Pasco, Vancouver, and Tacoma. Comments will be accepted through Nov. 18

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to