Cowlitz County needs the jobs that infrastructure projects like Millennium can provide- that was the overarching sentiment presented by The Everett Herald in a 744-word editorial on November 25th.
The paper rests the majority of its argument on the economic benefits of the proposal and highlights stark differences in unemployment rates between Snohomish and King Counties and rural areas of Washington like Cowlitz County. The latter, they note, have seen wages increase “only 17 percent to $26.08 an hour” since 1990, while the state as a whole saw an increase of “47.5 percent to $32.98 an hour” over the same time frame. Given the discrepancy, it is no wonder that Millennium’s project has seen an outpouring of support from a diverse coalition of labor, agriculture, and other community leaders:
“Those numbers explain the support in that region for the Millennium Bulk Terminal in Longview, a project to clean up and repurpose the site of the former Reynolds Aluminum smelter, expanding its facilities as a export terminal for coal and other bulk products, such as wheat, timber, alumina and apples.”
The editorial also addresses the unprecedented scale and scope of Millennium’s review process and argues that although environmental reviews must remain thorough, “there should be reasonable limits to the impacts all projects have to address.” The project has been an exemplary steward of the environment throughout the process, and as the editorial points out, “There’s no reason to make Millennium pay for China’s climate responsibilities.”
With an unemployment rate nearly twice as high as areas surrounding Puget Sound, Cowlitz County needs good-paying jobs that can support families. Recent hearings on the draft federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project saw supportive testimonies from hundreds of citizens, including workers in Longview who confirmed they travel as far as Portland, OR, for work daily to make ends meet.
It’s time to return Southern Washington to economic prosperity. With the comment period on the draft federal EIS for the project complete, the wait for the final evaluations begins. As Governor Inslee himself said, “The permitting process has been a very extensive process.” We agree, Governor Inslee. Let’s get this review across the finish line and bring jobs back to Cowlitz County.
Read the full piece here.