The Millennium Bulk Terminals could handle up to eight trains per day of Western coal headed to Asia.
More than a thousand people turned out Tuesday for a public hearing in Longview on a proposed export terminal there to send Western coal to Asia.
The Millennium Bulk Terminals could handle up to eight trains per day of coal. And the hearing in Longview, as well as two more scheduled for Thursday in Spokane and for June 2 in Pasco, offered people the chance to comment on a draft study of the terminal’s environmental impacts.
Supporters of the project wore blue shirts while opponents wore red.
The project, with a price tag expected to top $600 million, was proposed more than five years ago when China’s coal consumption was surging and international coal prices were climbing.
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Since then, China’s coal markets have cooled, international prices have nose-dived, and the export of Western coal to Asia has become a money-losing venture. So the terminal developers could find it difficult to find financing even if they are able to clear all regulatory hurdles.
“I am heartened. I think the tide on coal has turned,” said Les Anderson, a Longview resident and commercial-property owner who opposes the project. “There are more jobs in solar and wind. It’s a 19th-century energy source that has seen its day.”
Supporters included Ritchie Allison, a 42-year-old Millennium employee from Castle Rock. In an interview with The Vancouver Columbian newspaper, he said that the developer has “done a lot for the local community, and it’s been nothing but positive.”
The slogan “Building it Right” was printed on periwinkle blue T-shirts and dark-blue signs surrounding Millennium’s center at the “Floral Building.”
Another major coal terminal has been proposed for Cherry Point near Bellingham. But its prospects appeared to have been scuttled when Army Corps of Engineers officials ruled earlier this month that they could not issue a permit for a project that would infringe on the Lummi Nation’s treaty-protected fishing rights.