FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEPTEMBER 26, 2017
Washington state denies key permit for Longview coal project
British Columbia now sole exporter of U.S. thermal coal on the west coast of North America
Victoria — The Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) denied a necessary water quality permit for the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export facility in Longview, Washington. This key permit was refused on the basis the project would have caused “significant and irreversible harm” to air quality, water quality, and social, community and tribal resources. This permit denial very likely means the end of the line for the Longview project. See Longview’s Environmental Impact Assessment here.
“This victory in Longview is just the latest sign that thermal coal is our past, not our future,” says Arie Ross, Dogwood’s Coal Campaigner. “Because of a robust review process, the people of Washington were able to learn the risks of coal exports and make the right decision to deny this permit. But here in B.C., though we handle this toxic product already, we have had no comprehensive review of such projects, even letting U.S. coal trains get a free ride through our ports while B.C. producers have to pay to export their coal. This leaves British Columbians in harm’s way as coal companies profit. We are looking to our provincial government to take definitive action to stop these polluting U.S. coal trains in their tracks”.
U.S. thermal coal is currently handled in B.C. at Westshore terminals in Delta, and a proposal is still on the table to allow thermal coal shipments on the Fraser River from Fraser Surrey Docks. A key permit for Fraser Surrey Docks is being disputed in court between citizens groups Voters Taking Action on Climate Change and Communities & Coal, with the intervening cities of Surrey and New Westminster against Fraser Surrey Docks and the Port of Vancouver.
With this latest permit denial in Washington state, British Columbia is the last conduit for the dying American thermal coal industry aiming to access overseas markets from the west coast.
“It’s just a matter of time before every single thermal coal export proposal is scrapped to make way for safer, more profitable industries. Our government needs to do the right thing now to stop these thermal coal trains from polluting B.C. communities once and for all”.
The province could call for a comprehensive health and environmental review, or impose a levy on thermal coal like the one paid by B.C. coal producers to help stop this dirty coal in its tracks. The federal government could outright ban the product, and Metro Vancouver could deny an air quality permit at Fraser Surrey Docks.
Dogwood is B.C.’s largest non-partisan citizens group, uniting more than 260,000 supporters to take back power over our environment and democracy. Up-to-date analysis can be found at www.dogwoodbc.ca/news.