Coalition Challenges Permit Allowing Dirty Coal Export to Asia from WA Port

For Immediate Release

Environmental Groups
Contact: 

Jan Hasselman, Earthjustice, (206) 343-7340, Ext. 25
K.C. Golden, Climate Solutions, (206) 963-1953
Brett VandenHeuvel, Columbia Riverkeeper, (503) 348-2436
David Graham-Caso, Sierra Club, (858) 945-2203
Kerry McHugh, Washington Environmental Council, (206) 631-2605

Coalition Challenges Permit Allowing Dirty Coal Export to Asia from WA Port

Longview coal export plan ignores impacts on human health, air quality and global climate

TUMWATER, WA - In an appeal filed today, a coalition of conservation and clean energy
groups challenged a permit to build a coal export terminal in Longview
Washington.  The groups say the facility would threaten public health
and runs counter to state efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
 
The permit, granted by Cowlitz County commissioners on November 23,
authorizes construction of a massive coal export facility to handle 5
million tons of coal to Asia annually.
The coalition’s appeal, filed with the Washington State’s Shorelines
Hearings Board, says officials sidestepped all scientific review and
pushed through approval of the severely deficient permit.  The groups
seek to have the Shoreline Hearing Board invalidate the permit and
require the county to complete all the required analyses.

“The county commission rubber stamped the permit and ignored their duty
to act in the best interest of the community,” said Earthjustice
attorney Jan Hasselman, who filed the appeal on behalf of the groups.
“They refused to see the impacts of increased coal mining, more trains
roaring through the Columbia Gorge and the effects of mercury on
children and adults living here and far away.”

“Dirty coal is bad news for our community,” said Gayle Kiser, a resident
of the Longview-Kelso area. “We need to rebuild our economy with
technology and clean energy, not a risky investment in Asian coal
plants.”
 
The coalition said the Cowlitz County permit contains a number of major deficiencies, including:
       ·         Failure to study the consequences of burning coal in Asia
       ·         Failure to consider the effects of potentially increased coal mining
       ·         Failure to analyze the effects of transporting coal
hundreds of miles via train (where a large volume of coal dust is
generally lost)
       ·         Failure to analyze the effects of transporting the coal via ship to Asia

“Coal companies are targeting Washington as a gateway for coal export to
China,” said K.C. Golden, Policy Director of Climate Solutions. “This
one facility would export about as much coal as the whole state of
Washington now uses, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. It flies in
the face of the state’s commitment to climate solutions and leadership
in the clean energy economy. The most jobs, the best jobs, are in
building our clean energy economy, not in serving as a resource colony
for Asian economies.”

"Washington has a choice. We can either be leaders in a clean energy
future and economy, or we can be the export hub for the western United
States for dirty coal to Asia,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive
Director of Columbia Riverkeeper.

The Longview coal export project, about 126 miles south of Seattle and
40 miles north of Portland, Oregon, would be the first of several
proposed new coal terminals on the West Coast.  Energy companies would
use the terminal to send millions of tons of coal from Montana and
Wyoming through the Columbia Gorge by train, then load it into ships
bound for Asia.  Australia-based Ambre Energy would annually export five
million tons of coal from the Longview port.

Ambre is one of several major coal companies that have approached
Northwest ports, including the Port of Tacoma, about creating new coal
export terminals. Despite the port’s effort to diversify its business
away from container handling, the Tacoma port has told the coal
companies it isn’t interested.

“This proposal has grave implications for our health and our climate,”
said Doug Howell, Senior Representative for the Sierra Club’s Coal Free
Northwest campaign. “Allowing callous coal companies to offshore their
carbon pollution where it will do just as much damage to the climate is
not an acceptable proposal. People in the Pacific Northwest are already
suffering the damage done by pollution coming across the Pacific from
Asia and this will only make the problem worse.”
 
The appeal was filed by Earthjustice on behalf of Climate Solutions,
Sierra Club, Washington Environmental Council and Columbia Riverkeeper.
 
About the Shorelines Hearings Board

The Shorelines Hearings Board hears appeals from permit decisions, and
from those shoreline penalties jointly issued by local government and
Ecology, or issued by Ecology alone. The Board is not affiliated with
any other unit of government.

Three of the SHB members, who also serve as the Pollution Control
Hearings Board, are full time employees, appointed by the governor and
confirmed by the senate. At least one member is an attorney. The three
other members, who serve part time, are: the State Land Commissioner or
designee, a representative from the Washington State Association of
Counties, and one from the Association of Washington Cities.

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