This time, no rubber stamp for Big Coal
February 21, 2014

The people of Washington State have been heard!  Last week the Washington State Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County announced that they will take a broad look at the impacts of the proposed coal export terminal in Longview in southwest Washington—there will be no quick rubber stamp for this big coal project, but a rigorous review instead.

Impacts to be reviewed by state and county officials will include coal dust around the terminal, rail traffic and coal dust including in Montana, Idaho and the Columbia River Gorge, and the effects of coal combustion in China on Washington state, in particular carbon and mercury pollution. It's crucial that we protect our state from these potential harms.

That's why we're inviting you to join us in thanking Governor Inslee and the Department of Ecology, and letting them know that we support a broad scope review of all proposed coal export projects in our state.

Over 215,000 Washingtonians spoke out last fall on the Longview coal terminal proposal. Those efforts, part of the Power Past Coal campaign, are paying off! Big Coal wanted to narrow the scope of the state's review--but we know the climate impacts of increasing coal exports are worldwide, not just local.

The broad scope of this environmental and health review reflects both common sense and our Northwest values. This is a great step in the right direction for Washington.

At the same time, our state officials continue to take heat from the coal industry over their  intention to scrutinize these dirty and dangerous proposals.  Big Coal’s new front man is former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna and he took to the press last week calling Ecology Director Maia Bellon "unfair" regarding the agency's review of coal exports.

But the Longview coal export proposal has a rocky history, which more than justifies full-spectrum scrutiny. In 2011, a legal challenge exposed internal documentsshowing that the companies behind the proposal—Ambre, and their US subsidiary Millennium Bulk Logistics—lied to Cowlitz County and state officials about the size of their project. The companies claimed it would ship five million tons per year when they planned a project more than 10 times that size.

Coal export terminal proposals like this one shouldn't simply be rubber-stamped. Governor Inslee and the Department of Ecology deserve thanks for making sure that doesn't happen here!

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Author Bio

Joëlle Robinson

Field Director, Climate Solutions

Joëlle engages citizens and diverse constituencies—faith, health, veteran, youth, parents, sportsmen, business—to make their voices heard for climate solutions. She led local field work collaboration with our partners toward passing a federal climate bill, and is currently working to ensure we stop any coal export from the U.S. West Coast.

Joëlle was the Regional Outreach Coordinator of National Wildlife Federation where she focused on mobilizing hunters, anglers and concerned citizens around solutions to global warming. Previous work with Climate Solutions includes the NW Climate Connections partnership, serving as the Field Assistant for the successful Clean Cars campaign, and Field Director of the Renewable Fuel Standard, which passed in April 2006.

She is a board member of Earth Ministry and on the Advisory Board for the Seattle Area Happiness Initiative. She previously served on the Solar Washington board and Sierra Club Executive Committee.

Joëlle is a Northwest native who loves to hike, bike, dance, paraglide, and travel. Her favorite quote is “Hope is borne of participating in hopeful solutions.” — Marianne Williamson.

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