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Washington State Denies Permit For Coal Export Terminal

Coal train
The state of Washington says the proposed export terminal could hurt fisheries and cause health problems.

The state of Washington today denied a key permit sought by a company that wants to build and operate a large terminal to export coal from Montana to Asia.

Washington State’s Department of Ecology says the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminal Project near Longview, Washington would harm fisheries, create noise pollution and increase the risk of cancer in a nearby community.

David Bennett is a spokesperson for the agency.

“As proposed, we don’t feel this project has the standards to go forward to protect our environment here in Washington,” he said. 

So on Tuesday his agency denied Millennium Bulk Terminals a critical water quality permit. Without one of those, the project can’t be constructed.

Millennium Bulk Terminals has long hoped to build a facility along the Columbia River to handle up to 44 million tons of coal a year. Trains would carry the coal from Montana, Wyoming and other states, which would be loaded onto ships headed to Asia.

Bennett says this isn’t a death sentence for the terminal just yet. The company could appeal the state’s decision to a three-person board.

“If that board sides with the Department of Ecology, this project would effectively come to an end,” Bennett said. 

Montana currently exports most of its coal through a limited-capacity port in Vancouver, Canada.

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