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Outrage at Discovery of Hidden Plan for Massive Coal Export Facility in Longview, WA

Feb 15, 2011

Gayle Kiser, Longview resident:  360-749-7029
Brett VandenHeuvel, Columbia Riverkeeper: 503-348-2436

Longview, WA  - Longview residents expressed outrage over revelations that giant international coal companies proposing a coal export terminal for Cowlitz County deliberately concealed their scheme to build a much larger facility than they recently proposed to the public and officials.   Their plans for the first phase of the terminal would send five times more coal to be burned in Asian power plants than they disclosed, would create five times the pollution, and would have five times the impacts on local communities. The documents clearly show that the companies consciously hid the full scope of the project from the community and the government with the aim to skirt environmental laws, deceive the community and speed the permit process.

 “These foreign and out-of-state coal companies are trying to pull the wool over the community’s eyes,” said Sandy Davis, Longview resident and representative of Landowners and Citizens for a Safe Community.  “Hiding the size of the project and overall community impacts clearly violates the law and flies in the face of their claim that they intend to be good corporate citizens.”

 On Tuesday, residents learned the Australian-based Ambre Energy and St. Louis-based Arch Coal intend to build a substantially larger project than what they have discussed publicly with the community and county and state permitting agencies.   In November 2010, Cowlitz County Commissioners approved a shoreline permit to build a coal export facility shipping five million tons per year.  New documents reveal that the companies’ Phase 1 plan calls for exporting 25 million tons per year – five times the capacity that was disclosed to the community and permitting officials.  The documents clearly show that the companies hid the full scope of the project in hopes that county and state officials would quickly approve the smaller piece of the project, and that they consciously planned to wait until several months after they had permits in hand before revealing the rest of their Phase 1 plan.   Their records also suggest plans for future expansion phases for as much as 60 million tons per year. 

 The memos warned their workers that plans for the massive expansion “should not be made available to any outside party.”  Documents also state: “We are [at] too sensitive a juncture to raise the plans to build a second berth.  The community is small and the risk to the current permit path is too large.”

 “The negative impacts to the local community are too significant for the proposed 25 million plus ton mega coal port to proceed,” said Gary Lindstrom with LINDSHIP Maritime Services. “The coal giants stand to make huge profits, Asia gets all the energy and the vast majority of the jobs from that energy, and the people of Longview would sacrifice and pay the price with coal dust and coal trains suffocating us and our roads.  Coal would shut us down and diminish our quality of life."

Lindstrom pointed out that the additional 20 million tons of coal would bring eight unit trains per day equating to 3,800 miles of rail cars and locomotives per year moving slowly across four at-grade rail crossings in one of the busiest truck and auto corridors in Washington.

A diverse coalition of clean economy, environmental and citizen groups oppose the dirty coal proposal because the facility would threaten public health and runs counter to state efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and build a clean energy economy.

“This isn't the first time a corporation has come into our community making promises about being a good citizen, when they were actually just looking for a way to exploit us in order to make millions of dollars,” said local resident Gayle Kiser. “Our local officials need to recognize these wolves in sheep's clothing."

A number of organizations have joined local residents in their opposition to the proposed coal export facility and to coal export off the West Coast, including Columbia Riverkeeper, Climate Solutions, Conservation Northwest, Earthjustice, Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power & Light, E2 Environmental Entrepreneurs Pacific Northwest Chapter, FUSE, Landowners and Citizens for a Safe Community, League of Conservation Voters, League of Women Voters of Washington State, North Sound Baykeeper, Rainforest Action Network, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Restoring Eden, Sierra Club, Sightline Institute, Washington Conservation Voters, Washington Environmental Council,  Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Washington State Surfrider Foundation.



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