Blow out the candles. February 2017 is now behind us, and the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals project has officially been awaiting permitting for five full years.
At this point, Washington is at a crossroads. Regulators have a choice – stop the delays on Millennium’s project and be remembered for ushering in a period of economic growth and prosperity, or continue to delay the terminal and go down in history as the group that pushed the limits of economic self-sabotage.
With that in mind, let’s look at some other major construction projects undertaken in the United States for reference. The Empire State Building, nearly synonymous with big construction, took one year and forty five days to build. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco took four years to complete, and Seattle’s own CenturyLink Field took just two years to finish. Millennium, in contrast, still remains in the permitting phase after five full years.
And it’s clear that the revenues and economic benefits the project would produce for Longview, Cowlitz County and the state have been missed. According to Millennium, the project would generate a total of $5.28 million annually in tax revenues. If the project had been completed in 2015, as Millennium expected, it would have generated two years of tax revenues at this point, or a total of $10.56 million. And with all of that money, the state could have purchased 356,396 6th grade history textbooks for Washington students, financed 3,815 stays in state hospitals, or paid the salaries of 158 police officers for a year.
Millennium’s five year wait has deprived the state of needed economic growth for entirely too long. Southwest Washington desperately needed the jobs Millennium’s project would have created five years ago. With an unemployment rate in Cowlitz County that is still higher than the state’s average, that condition has not changed. Washington is the most trade dependent state in the country. Tax revenues and wages from trade related projects finance everything from healthcare to everyday living expenses. The state truly needs projects like Millennium’s to function.
It’s time to let Millennium proceed and allow all Washingtonians to share the project’s economic benefits. The extravagant five year permitting wait casts trade-dependent Washington as a state in conflict with its own identity, and the measureable benefits foregone from lost tax revenues are striking. Millennium’s project is a community investment, and the community can wait no longer.