Dozens of people drove hundreds of miles from Wyoming, Montana and Idaho to Spokane Thursday to weigh in on a proposed coal export terminal. The terminal would sit along the Columbia River in Longview. But the permitting agencies want input from inland cities along the train tracks.
If the project is approved, up to 16 trains will travel from the far corners of Montana and Wyoming to deliver coal to the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminal in Longview, Washington.
Corinne Hart of Billings, Montana, said the environmental review needs to take into account effects on rail-side communities like hers, Missoula, as well as Sandpoint, Idaho.
“My ex-husband lives in an area where there are no underpasses or overpasses and he has my little girls 50 percent of the time,” Hart said. “If there were ever an emergency and an ambulance has to get to them and there were a coal train coming through, that ambulance just has to sit and wait.”
State officials from Montana and Wyoming came to the microphone to plead for access to coastal ports to preserve jobs in their states, including Montana Assistant Attorney General Pat Riskin.
“Montana is a landlocked commodity producing state,” Riskin said. “Our economy and the well-being of our state’s families depends on access to markets for these commodities.”
Washington’s Department of Ecology plans to hold one more public hearing on the draft environmental impact statement in Pasco next week. State permits for the project could be issued after the agency publishes a final environmental review. That is expected sometime next year.