The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), recently denied a request to lease state land, which would have been the site of the Millennium Bulk Coal Terminal in Longview, Washington. This proposed coal terminal stood to be the largest coal export terminal in the country, transporting 44 million tons of coal per year from Montana (through Idaho) to Washington and ultimately shipping the coal for burning in Asia. Such a facility would have jammed another 16 trains per day through Idaho communities and along vulnerable waterways like Lake Pend Oreille.
Why Was the Lease Denied?
The Washington DNR denied Millennium the lease, citing Millennium’s repeated failure to provide requested information regarding the viability and financial integrity of the company and the international coal export business, as well as other details concerning the proposed lease agreement. Millennium’s CEO disputes whether the DNR’s decision will restrict development of the coal terminal, but the decision appears secure for now, as it cannot be appealed to the department.
What Is the Result?
Fewer trains riding the rails through Idaho means we are spared not only delays to our emergency first responders but coal dust, which can blow off the top of uncovered rail cars, spreading toxic chemicals into the rivers and lakes these trains pass. And, of course, fewer trains transporting coal ultimately means fewer opportunities to burn and release the greenhouse gas lurking inside the coal.
Until Millennium officially suspends its development proposal, let’s celebrate another early victory and continue to reaffirm to our friends, neighbors and elected officials that running coal through our communities simply doesn’t make economic or environmental sense anymore.