Today, a coalition of conservation and clean energy groups applauded the state’s decision to intervene in their challenge to the permit for a coal export terminal in Longview, Washington. The state contends that the Cowlitz County commissioners did not go far enough in considering greenhouse gas emissions outside the immediate boundaries of the project before issuing the permit for construction of the massive coal export facility.
“We are very pleased that the state is calling for full disclosure of the risks to Washington’s environment posed by this coal export facility,” said Jan Hasselman, an attorney for Earthjustice, who filed the original appeal on behalf of the groups. “We see this appeal as essential to protecting the health and future of Washington.”
The coalition’s appeal was filed with the Washington State Shorelines Hearing Board on December 13 and says officials pushed through approval of the coal facility permit without adequate scientific review of the project’s impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions; traffic, hazards and air pollution in the local community; and potential harm to fish and wildlife in the Columbia River. The groups seek to have the permit invalidated and the county required to complete all the required analyses before taking any further action.
“This proposed coal export terminal is a raw deal for Washington and the people of Cowlitz County,” said Becky Kelley, Campaign Director for Washington Environmental Council. “We’d be shipping coal that creates jobs overseas, but we’re the ones who would be footing the bill for the public health and environmental problems this terminal would create.”
The proposed export facility would ship 5 million tons of coal to Asia annually, which is roughly equal to the amount of coal burned in the whole state of Washington currently. The coalition said that the permit failed to consider the greenhouse gas impacts of burning coal in Asia; the effects of potentially increasing coal mining; the effects of transporting coal hundreds of miles via train; and transporting the coal via ship to Asia.
“The state's action today further demonstrates that there needs to be a full accounting of the impacts of this project on our environment and public health,” said Dan Serres, Conservation Director with Columbia Riverkeeper. “As evidenced by overwhelming opposition to coal export in last month's public hearing, we should be looking to the future and working to build a clean energy economy here in Washington, not risking our health and environment to be a middleman providing cheap, dirty fuel to other countries.”