State Makes Questionable Finding on Rail Impact of MBT

SEATTLE — Today, after five years of study and review, the Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) released a final Environmental Impact Statement on the Millennium Bulk Terminal project in Longview that contains an allegation that the maximum 16 potential train trips (8 trains entering and leaving the facility) providing service to the facility would increase the potential cancer risk for members of a Longview neighborhood. Alliance spokeswoman Mariana Parks released the following statement regarding this allegation – which, was made for the first time in this final EIS:

“By making this allegation today, DOE violates the very methodology of the expansive scope it chose to evaluate the project’s impacts, and instead chose to look in isolation at the alleged impacts of train operations for a specific commodity, ignoring established facts and public data.   Instead, the FEIS has inflated and inaccurate locomotive air emission assumptions that have not been subjected to public review.

DOE’s assertion regarding a maximum 16 train trips is seemingly an indictment against rail service across the state, which transports grain, lumber, Boeing aircraft fuselages, and the consumer products we all rely on every day. BNSF Railway operates the newest fleet of lower emission, fuel efficient locomotives in the US rail industry, and include advanced idle reduction controls. In addition to freight, some 48 Amtrak and Sound Transit Commuter Rail trains operate daily, transporting thousands of people in Central Puget Sound and around the state, using the same or similar locomotives that move freight across the state. That total of 48 passenger trains is scheduled to increase to 56 later this fall.   

So, is DOE suggesting in the FEIS that these trains are also creating an increased risk for anyone near their operation?  To do so ignores the fact that rail is the most environmentally friendly and energy efficient surface transportation mode.  (Freight trains effectively take the equivalent of 280 trucks off the highway, which saves four times the fuel and reduces emissions and highway traffic congestion.)

In addition, as the massive FEIS document for the MBT project was released, the DOE Administrator chose to launch her own Twitter campaign of tweets exclusively highlighting the negative assertions made about the project.  In so doing, she has removed any final veil of attempting to be impartial in evaluating the Millennium Bulk Terminal project.]

The MBT project will do the following good things: it will provide thousands of family wage jobs, millions of dollars of tax revenue, and cleanup of an old industrial site.   We hope the Federal Final EIS will provide a much more grounded, reasoned evaluation of the potential impacts of the project.”  

State penalizes Millennium with unprecedented SEPA findings

Unprecedented SEPA ruling sets bad precedent for trade, exports and jobs

SEATTLE — Washington state is closed for business – unless regulators are comfortable with the commodity or product.

That’s essentially what the Washington State Department of Ecology told Millennium Bulk Terminals today when it ruled the company would have to mitigate for 100% of the emissions generated by overseas use of coal exported through Longview.

Mariana Parks, spokeswoman for the Alliance, offered the following statement in the wake of today’s decision:

“This is use of a state regulatory policy to police the use of products outside of Washington state is simply unheard of. We don’t penalize farmers for agricultural products used in foreign markets, or aerospace manufacturers. But because it’s coal, state polices are being used to enforce the end-use of products around the globe. It’s unprecedented, and telegraphs the wrong message about doing business in Washington state.

As the most trade-dependent state in the country, where one in three jobs is tied to trade, you would expect a more level-headed approach to the regulatory process. This is purely a political decision, and unfortunately, the people of Southwest Washington are being made to pay for it. We’re talking about nearly 3,000 new jobs that would be created with this project and millions in new annual tax revenue, for schools, roads and public safety.

Washington state has the most stringent environmental regulations in the country. So it begs the question, why not build this project here, where we can ensure the product will be handled safely from start to finish? It also gives us pause as we look at the continued economic uncertainty in places like Kelso and Longview, where unemployment rates barely fluctuate below seven percent. What are we doing to help these people and grow jobs in their community? Imagine what 3,000 new jobs would do for a community like Longview.

Millennium Bulk Terminals is committed to building this project right. They’ve already demonstrated their commitment to redeveloping the former Alcoa smelter, spending millions on environmental cleanup of a site that would otherwise still be in distress. Millennium is located in an existing industrial area, it has taken all the steps — jumped through all the regulatory hoops — and the state continues to move the goal line for permits.

Today’s SEPA announcement is a disappointment and a frightening example of the kind of regulatory overreach at play in our state. It’s very disheartening and does not project the right tone for future employers looking to cite a business here in Washington state.”

The Alliance For Northwest Jobs & Exports Statement on BNSF Legal Settlement

SEATTLE – The Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports released the following statement today after BNSF railroad reached a settlement with several environmental groups that brought unfounded and outrageous litigation against the company:

Alliance spokeswoman Mariana Parks said:

“Today’s settlement agreement by BNSF in the outrageous $4.6 trillion litigation brought by overzealous environmental groups underscores what we’ve all known for years: that coal dust is not an issue in this region. We’ve known this for nearly as long as trains have run through Washington. 

We knew this 2 years ago, when the Northwest Clean Air Agency found that coal dust from rail traffic wasn’t a concern to our air, water or quality of life. And this position was recently reiterated in the most comprehensive and extensive reviews ever conducted in southwest Washington during the compilation of the draft environmental impact statements for the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals by Cowlitz County, the state, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In fact, the Washington State Department of Ecology analysis stated as much when they found that “there would be no unavoidable and significant environmental impacts from coal dust” tied to the project.  

Anyone trying to claim anything else about coal dust is simply promoting an extreme agenda, regardless of the facts. BNSF is a good corporate citizen to the state of Washington, and continues to make significant investments, such as the $26 million spent on rail improvements at the respray facility in Pasco, to improve rail traffic. This settlement, to bring an end to protracted and costly litigation, recognizes the fact that coal will continue to be safely transported through the Northwest, just as it has for well over a century.”

 

Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports Responds to the Release of Federal EIS for Millennium Bulk Terminals

September 30, 2016

For More Information Please Contact:

Kathryn Stenger

425.773.1622 [email protected]

Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports Responds to the Release of Federal EIS for Millennium Bulk Terminals

SEATTLE – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its long awaited draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals project in Longview today, marking the end of the most comprehensive and exhaustive federal review ever conducted of any infrastructure project on the Columbia River.

“We’re happy the Army Corps followed through on the process – even if it took an unprecedented four years to complete,” Kathryn Stenger, spokeswoman for the Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports. “It is a fact that Millennium is spending millions of dollars cleaning up a former industrial site, and transitioning the property into a first-class export terminal capable of shipping all sorts of commodities to destinations around the globe. The people of Longview look to Millennium as an essential component of rebuilding the local economy, and the hundreds of jobs created by the port are vital to its future. Given the length of time, there can be no doubt that the Corps devoted enough attention and resources into preparing this document; it’s time to move the process forward.”

Located on a 530-acre heavy industrial site that’s been underutilized for more than a decade, Millennium will support more than 2,600 jobs during construction and a full-time complement of 300 family wage positions once operations commence.

“There’s no doubt that we need the jobs in this area, and that the economy isn’t as vibrant here as it is in Seattle and King County,” said Lee Newgent, the executive secretary of the Washington Building & Construction Trades Council. “The Millennium team should be commended for their commitment to building a first-class export facility that exceeds the state’s high environmental standards while also providing jobs that can support families in southeastern Washington.”

Expanding Millennium Bulk Terminals would also support infrastructure investments needed to move many Washington commodities according to John Stuhlmiller, CEO of the Washington Farm Bureau.

“Washington’s farmers rely on port and rail infrastructure to get their products to markets around the world,” said Stuhlmiller.  “Investment in infrastructure to carry all goods—whether it is wheat and potatoes or coal and airplanes—is crucial to our state’s overall trade picture.  Farmers and growers understand the more opportunity Washington has to export, the greater the willingness there will be to invest in the infrastructure to support these exports.  For this reason, we look forward to voicing our support for Millennium Bulk Terminal’s expansion and the investment in added export infrastructure it will promote.”

 

For more information visit www.createnwjobs.com.

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Public outcry forces Whatcom Council to slow down

July 12, 2016

CONTACT: Kathryn Stenger
Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports
425.773.1622 or [email protected]

Changes to comp plan limiting Cherry Point to receive full public process

BELLINGHAM — After continued discussion, the Whatcom County Council today wisely decided not to make wholesale changes to the comprehensive plan introduced by Councilman Carl Weimer, opting instead for a process that will allow for greater public input and draw review of the proposal out through 2017.

The council debated the proposed changes Tuesday during a continuation of the hastily scheduled July 5 meeting, and held first thing the morning after the July 4 holiday.

The council again heard from strong local opposition, including Northwest Jobs Alliance of Whatcom County, local residents, area businesses and labor leaders on the negative impact of the proposed changes, and the process by which the amendments were brought forward. As a result, the council will be drafting a resolution to the county planning commission to be reviewed at a later date that will outline proposed changes to the current draft Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan — a plan that still in its final stage of completion before being passed later this year.

“Today’s decision by the council will ensure a fair and democratic process is followed and that changes of this magnitude are not jammed through,” said Kathryn Stenger, spokeswoman for the Alliance for Northwest Jobs Alliance. “Private citizens, labor unions and members of the business community all rallied to call the council out on this short-sighted and unfair process.

“They’re talking about putting a halt to the county’s biggest private industrial zone, potentially impacting hundreds, if not thousands of family-wage jobs at a time they should be working to expand job opportunities,” said Stenger.

“Whatcom County has the least affordable rental housing in the entire state, and ranks next to last in terms of single-family home ownership. Whatcom County needs more family-wage jobs to improve those numbers, and amendments like this won’t help increase those job opportunities. If the council is really concerned about the future of Whatcom County, it needs to get serious about protecting its existing economic drivers and find ways to attract and retain new private employers,” she added.

“Otherwise, the jobs outlook for Whatcom County isn’t going to change much — in fact, it might even get worse. And that won’t be good for the families and working people of Whatcom County, or the public services people all depend on.”

“The council’s whole approach on this has been wrong from the beginning – from the late notice of the proposed change to the last minute hearing the day after a national holiday, to today’s hearing. They’re attempt to rush these proposed changes through would have denied the public their due process,” said Brad Owens, president of the Northwest Jobs Alliance, a Whatcom County-based economic development group.

“It’s not fair to property owners and it’s certainly not fair to the people of Whatcom County who rely on these industries and businesses for good-paying jobs and the revenue they bring to our county, schools and public safety. Today’s decision was a good one. Now we need to keep that momentum going.”

For more on the Alliance’s efforts to support a stronger economy in Washington, visit our website at: http://createnwjobs.com.

Whatcom County Considering Misguided Proposal Prohibiting Development at Cherry Point

SEATTLE – A proposal currently under consideration in Whatcom County could prohibit new development at the Cherry Point Industrial Site, overstepping due process rights and property rights and ultimately jeopardizing hundreds of family-wage jobs.

Kathryn Stenger, spokeswoman for the Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports, released the following statement today following Tuesday’s Whatcom County Council meeting that postponed consideration for the proposal until July 12.

“This last-minute proposal, void of any commonsense or legal basis, will stop in its tracks the development of projects essential in creating more jobs and a stronger economy for Whatcom County residents,” said Stenger. “The overreaching plan is a textbook example of the flawed and concerning agenda of those determined to undermine needed infrastructure advancements in Whatcom County and ultimately the state of Washington. This has the potential to impact not only the working families of Whatcom County, but the business climate for our entire state. We should all be concerned about this kind of politics playing out right now.”

The proposal, introduced by Whatcom County Council member Carl Weimer, has caused policymakers, stakeholders, labor, and industry to sound the alarm due to a number of questionable factors, including:

The plan has failed to receive any legal analysis proving compliance with state and federal laws;

  • There has been no fiscal assessment to analyze its potentially devastating economic impacts;
  • It will significantly impact the County’s employment projections for Cherry Point over the 20-year planning period; and
  • It directly contradicts the very purpose of Cherry Point’s Industrial Site.

The Bellingham-based Northwest Jobs Alliance echoed the shortcomings of the plan and underscored the need for industrial innovation in the region.

“It’s unclear why the Whatcom County Council would consider instituting policies that suffocate the county’s industrial sector – a core component of our current tax base,” said Brad Owens, president of Northwest Jobs Alliance. “Ill-conceived and legally questionable plans, like the one proposed by Mr. Weimer, will only harm our region’s ability to attract new family wage jobs and improve our quality of life. It also fails to provide local residents with the confidence that the elected officials responsible for this situation have any grasp on how to build and grow a healthy, balanced economy.”

For more on efforts by the Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports to support a stronger economy in Washington, visit our website at: http://createnwjobs.com.

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Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports Responds to U.S. Army Corps’ Gateway Pacific Terminal Permit Denial

May 10, 2016

For More Information Please Contact:

Kathryn Stenger

425.773.1622 [email protected]

Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports Responds to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’s denial of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal’s permit. 

On May 9, 2016, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that they have decided to cut permitting for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal. Alliance for Northwest Jobs spokesperson, Kathryn Stenger, said:

“It’s truly disturbing that the Army Corps took the unprecedented step today to deny the permit for the Gateway Pacific Terminal project even before releasing the draft Environmental Impact Statement. The entire point of the environmental review process is to identify potential problems with a project and to give the community an opportunity to discuss the appropriate path forward. To deny this permit without any involvement from the community or without releasing any of the findings from its years long review is deeply troubling and sends a dangerous signal that the Army Corps values special interests over the rule of law. This ruling could have a chilling impact on thousands of families in northwest Washington who were counting on this project to provide good-paying jobs.”

Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports Responds to the Release of EIS for Millennium Bulk Terminals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 29, 2016

For More Information Please Contact:

Kathryn Stenger

425.773.1622 [email protected]

Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports Responds to the Release of EIS for Millennium Bulk Terminals

SEATTLE – This morning, the Washington state Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County released the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminal port project in Longview, marking the beginning of the next chapter in a process that’s lasted more than four years.

“Today’s release of the draft EIS for Millennium Bulk Terminals, a simple dock and rail yard expansion project, is the latest step in an excessive evaluation that has already drug on more than twice as long as it took to actually build Seattle’s CenturyLink Field,” said Alliance spokeswoman Kathryn Stenger. “The unprecedented demand to require Millennium to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions that occur on the other side of the globe will create a harrowing process that should terrify any Washington manufacturer or shipper looking to expand its facility.”

Stenger added that this project is a critical part of building out the state’s trade infrastructure and that Millennium is doing it in an environmentally responsible way.

“Millennium is investing millions to clean up a former industrial site and create good-paying jobs to improve our economy,” Stenger said.  “Washington has the most trade dependent economy in the nation, and adding port capacity is essential for shipping all commodities – from apples and wine to coal and timber – to willing overseas trade partners.”

Expanding Millennium Bulk Terminals would also support infrastructure investments needed to move many Washington State commodities according to John Stuhlmiller, CEO of the Washington Farm Bureau.

“Washington’s farmers rely on port and rail infrastructure to get their products to markets around the world.  Investment in infrastructure to carry all goods—whether it is wheat and potatoes or coal and airplanes—is crucial to our state’s overall trade picture.  Farmers and growers understand the more opportunity Washington has to export, the greater the willingness there will be to invest in the infrastructure to support these exports.  For this reason, we look forward to voicing our support for Millennium Bulk Terminal’s expansion and the investment in added export infrastructure it will promote.”

For more information visit www.createnwjobs.com.

 

 

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Alliance Response to Hearing Dates for the Millennium Bulk Terminal Project

SEATTLE – Kathryn Stenger, spokeswoman with the Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports, released the following statement this afternoon following the news from the Washington state Department of Ecology that the dates of three public hearings were set for the review of the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Millennium Bulk Terminals project planned for a former superfund site in Longview:

“The news out of the WA Department of Ecology today is a step in the direction of building a robust economy for all of Washington, not just around the high rises of downtown Seattle. These hearings will give the public its chance to learn more about the Millennium project and the terminal’s commitment to being a good corporate neighbor while adhering to the strongest of environmental standards. Millennium Bulk Terminals is taking a former environmental eye-sore, and turning it into a source of new revenue and jobs at a time when Washington state is eager for both.”

According to the information from the state, the hearings will be scheduled in Longview, Cowlitz County Regional Event Center (May 24, 1-9 p.m.), Spokane WA, Spokane Convention Center (May 26, 1-9 p.m.) and Pasco, WA, TRAC Center (June 2, 1-9 p.m.).

Here’s the link to the announcement: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/news/2016/041.html

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Professor’s Latest Study Misses the Mark

The hastily completed 6-week air analysis ignores critical facts about rail investment in Washington’s economy

SEATTLE— A new air quality study rushed to completion in order to sway public opinion against the expansion of bulk-commodity trade terminals in Longview and Bellingham is based on questionable analysis and ultimately adds little substance to the legitimate scientific debate. Paid for by groups opposed to growing trade infrastructure — including activist organizations like the Sierra Club and Friends of the Columbia Gorge, and crowdfunded donations — the latest attempt by University of Washington professor Dan Jaffe to confuse the public falls flat on arrival.

“The state’s own clean air consultant, the Northwest Clean Air Agency, has conclusively found no evidence of harmful air pollution levels from coal trains,” said Kathryn Stenger, the spokeswoman for the Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports. “The previous 20-month monitoring reflects objective, sound research as opposed to this latest advocacy driven, opposition-funded, and clearly misleading review compiled during a 6-week period by Mr. Jaffe and his allies in the fringe environmental movement.”

The Alliance wasn’t the only one calling into question the parameters of Mr. Jaffe’s review. As reported by Oregon Public Radio, “The study wasn’t long enough to prove these trains are breaking clean air standards. It lasted only six weeks, and the Environmental Protection Agency requires three years to prove violations.”

In a 2014 interview, Jaffe himself discredited his own attempts to prove hazardous levels of particulates caused by coal dust. When asked about coal dust found near homes along the rail line, Jaffe stated: “That seems to be a non-issue.”

Added Stenger, “As he attempted unsuccessfully in 2014, Mr. Jaffe continues to recklessly misrepresent scientific findings in pursuit of a misguided political agenda —this is not only bad science, it is bad policy. Washington citizens deserve accurate, scientifically based information on this issue.

“Professor Jaffe’s announcement this week does little to change the conversation about the proposed terminals or the infrastructure used to transport commodities each day to our ports and points beyond. The reality is, the science proves coal dust is not an issue. This was nothing more than a quick hit designed to instill fear and cast doubt on these the proposed terminals. Science wins out.”

Additional studies support the findings of the Northwest Washington Clean Air Agency, including:

  • Missoula City County Report: Conducted by the Missoula City-County Health Department concluded that coal dust constituted only about 5 percent of particulate matter surrounding a rail line commonly used to transport coal.
  • Australian Rail Track Corporation study /Professor Louise Ryan: Professor Ryan found that there was about a 10 percent increase in particulate matter from loaded and empty coal trains and freight trains compared to background levels. She found that there was no evidence supporting differences between loaded or empty coal trains and freight trains with respect to associated levels of particulates.
  • Spokane Clean Air Agency: When questioned as to whether the agency was concerned about coal dust from uncovered trains, they responded, “After reviewing how coal dust is treated once it is loaded, Spokane Clean Air is fairly confident that this will not be an issue for local quality impacts. The potential for coal dust emissions is greatest at the point of loading and unloading, which is not occurring in Spokane County.”

The undisputed facts remain:

  • Trains carrying coal have crossed the Pacific Northwest en route to Canadian ports for decades; until permits were filed for construction of marine terminals to handle coal in the Pacific Northwest, no state, local, or regional clean air agency had received any complaints about coal dust.
  • Of the 13 activities monitored by the Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) as sources of particulate emissions, locomotives rank among the three smallest contributors. According to the DOE’s Comprehensive Emissions Inventory Summary, trains only contribute 0.8% of the state’s total PM2.5 emissions (fine particulate matter).
  • Locomotives are four times more fuel efficient than trucks, and only account for 0.6% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Moving freight by rail instead of truck lowers greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent – making rail an important part of Washington’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There is no question that rail traffic is the “greenest” source of ground transportation.
  • Members of the Alliance have been at the forefront of research into the issue of coal dust escaping from loaded coal cars on rail lines in the Powder River Basin (PRB), which is located in Wyoming and Montana.  For example, Alliance member BNSF has developed a coal loading rule that virtually eliminates any issues with coal dust – both at the mines and in the Pacific Northwest. BNSF’s coal loading rule is two-fold: coal must be loaded so that it utilizes an aerodynamic “bread load” shape that reduces issues with wind and then an approved topping agent must be applied. The topping agents are like a glue and have been identified during their testing, and now through years of operations, as effectively controlling dust.
  • Separately, to add another redundant layer to an already effective mitigation program, BNSF recently opened a state-of-the-art re-spray facility at their Pasco, Wash., yard. Now all unit trains of coal traveling through Washington receive a second spray of one of the approved topping agents, furthering enhancing the coal dust program.