Millennium Permit Process A Charade

Governor, Ecology gave false hope to job seekers in pre-determined process to deny permits

SEATTLE — Citing a complete lack of faith in the state’s regulatory review process, representatives from the Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports issued the following statement on the Department of Ecology’s rejection of the Millennium Bulk Terminals water quality permit:

“Today’s announcement by Director Maia Bellon and the Department of Ecology lays bare the real regulatory process in Washington state is political theater engineered to fit a specific narrative while denying thousands of jobs to people most in need in our state,” said Mike Bridges, president, Longview/Kelso Building Trades. “This announcement is part of an absurd political effort to stop energy projects in their tracks. And what’s sad is that the state has dragged our members, and thousands of our brothers and sisters through five years of public comment and hearings that were all apparently just for show. Denying Millennium’s water quality permit based on every conceivable notion except water quality issues tells you all you need to know: This process was pre-determined, and was only in search of some hook to hang their reasoning to reject the proposed terminal.”

“Where was the outrage, the protests, the handwringing when King County dumped 235 million gallons of sewage into Puget Sound this past spring? Where was Ecology then? Why no public hearings or public admonishments? Where was the environmental outrage then?” added Mariana Parks, spokeswoman for ANWJE. “Instead, county government gets by with a $300,000 slap on the wrist. But private sector businesses, who create thousands of good-paying jobs in areas of the state desperate for work, get dragged through the political wringer for five years. And to what end?”

“The state knew how it wanted to rule all along, but the governor and Ecology gave my members and the people of Cowlitz County false hope, seemingly going through a permitting process that was billed as a fair and necessary procedure,” added Bridges. “This whole process has been a farce from day one. Our members are hopeful that the appeals board will overrule this blatantly political decision by the Department of Ecology.  If they don’t overturn this outrageous action we will certainly remember this in the coming years, when we get a chance to decide who really stands up for jobs and labor in this state.”

Millennium Bulk Terminals is planning to appeal the decision by Ecology Director Bellon to the State of Washington’s Environmental and Land Use Hearings Office. While this appeal is underway, other permits necessary for Millennium Bulk Terminal’s approval, including the Shorelines permit continue through their regular public comment process.

Millennium Bulk Terminals Granted First Permit

Critical Areas Permit marks another milestone for the export project

SEATTLE — Issuance of the first permit needed for the construction of the Millennium Bulk Terminals export terminal marks another major step for the project, after five years of regulatory evaluation and review.

The Critical Areas Permit issued by the Cowlitz County Department of Building and Planning is designed to protect fish habitat and wetland areas. Issuance of the permit is a positive reflection on the effort Millennium has put into its plans for this project, said Mariana Parks, spokeswoman for the Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports.

“The fact that Cowlitz County has granted this permit means the county has accepted Millennium’s plan to protect these critical areas,” said Parks. “This is a significant next step for this project, which has undergone more than five years of environmental review and scrutiny. Families in Cowlitz County continue to wait for economic development that will generate good jobs and much-needed tax revenue. The issuance of the Critical Areas Permit represents a landmark moment in this process, the first step of many more toward building this facility and bringing jobs to Cowlitz County.”

Millennium Resubmits Permit Application for Terminal

Administrative action underscores unusually lengthy review process

SEATTLE — A procedural action taken Tuesday by Millennium Bulk Terminals at the request of the Washington State Department of Ecology underscores the lengthy regulatory review process for the proposed export terminal project.

At the agency’s request, Millennium refiled its permit application for the proposed coal export terminal in Longview. The filing was done to accommodate inconsistencies in permitting deadlines between the state (Ecology) and federal governments (US Army Corps of Engineers).

Mariana Parks, spokeswoman for the Alliance, said that while the re-filing was merely an administrative correction, it highlights the ongoing regulatory review process for this project.

“This is another reminder of just how long this process has stretched out,” said Parks. “We continue to emphasize the economic importance of Millennium Bulk Terminals, both in terms of the jobs it would create and the value it would bring to Washington as the most trade-dependent state in the nation. Millennium has worked diligently to ensure this project meets the high standards for environmental protection in Cowlitz County and in Washington,” she added.

“We look forward to reviewing the U.S. Army Corps’ final EIS, the next major milestone for this project.”

Mike Bridges, president of the Longview/Kelso Building Trades/IBEW Local 48, added, “This project is essential to the wellbeing of Southwest Washington. It will bring thousands of jobs to a region that needs the work. This action is another unfortunate reminder that this project has taken far too long – and it’s far past time to make a decision.”

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 |kathryn@createnwjobs.com

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.

###

 

Public outcry forces Whatcom Council to slow down

July 12, 2016

CONTACT: Kathryn Stenger
Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports
425.773.1622 or kathryn@createnwjobs.com

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.

###

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 |kathryn@createnwjobs.com

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.”