Four-year process leads to draft EIS for Millennium project

More than four years after the permitting process began, Washington State DOE and Cowlitz County released the draft EIS for the Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview project that would create a global export hub.

AGC has supported the project, which will bring much-needed, family-wage jobs to Southwest Washington -- more than 2,600 direct and indirect jobs during construction, and 300 permanent direct and indirect jobs.

While applauding the release of the draft EIS, AGC and other business groups bemoaned the fact that it has taken so long to get to this point. The business groups also protested the precedent-setting approach by DOE which has been beyond the scope granted by the Legislature.

“At more than four years in length, and nearly double the time of other significant project reviews, it is time to finish this review,” AGC and other business groups said in a letter of support for the project. “The employer community needs the assurance of regulatory certainty. We strongly support a rigorous and thorough review of all projects, as well as compliance with environmental laws. When the review becomes a significant delay, however, the project proponent and beneficiaries of the project are unnecessarily harmed.”

Several of the draft EIS’ major findings show there will be no significant environmental impacts to the proposed site, or state, as a result of this project. In fact, the DIES debunks many of the serious claims of environmental impact, showing the proposal will have no adverse impacts to the natural environment. These include issues related to coal dust, rail and vehicle traffic, among others.  

Despite the lack of environmental impact to the site of the project, a key provision in the DEIS will require MBTL to contemplate and mitigate for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are not only beyond the boundaries of this project and state, but also beyond the scope of your granted legislative authority. An obligation to consider and mitigate GHG emissions on a global scale is a departure from the traditional use of the SEPA tool, which is meant to consider local impacts. No other project proposal has been tasked with global evaluations, or to undertake such mitigation.

The proposed accounting and mitigation is precedent setting. Precedent for new obligations under our state’s Environmental Policy Act should not be established on a project-by-project basis. Doing so will surely cast a dim light on economic prosperity for our state.

The Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County will continue accepting written comments on the project through June 13 and plans to finish the EIS in 2017.

For more information, call or email AGC’s Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood, 360.352.5000.