Local news

Northwest governors cooperate on coal port

SEATTLE – Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer says he thinks Washington state will give fair treatment to a proposal to build a major shipping terminal on the lower Columbia River to send Montana coal to China and other Asian countries.

Schweitzer and fellow Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire met in downtown Seattle Wednesday to discuss the proposal by Millennium Bulk Logistics to build the terminal west of Longview and export up to 5.7 million tons of coal a year. The coal would come by rail from the Powder River Basin in southeastern Montana and Wyoming.

In November, Cowlitz County commissioners voted to give Millennium, owned by Australian coal company Ambre Energy, a permit to redevelop the site. However, that decision was appealed last month to the Washington state Shorelines Hearings Board by four environmental groups.

The state Ecology Department has since asked to intervene in the appeal, saying the county should have analyzed greenhouse gas emissions more broadly and not just in the immediate area of the Longview project.

Schweitzer said both Montana and Washington should be behind the project, which would improve the economies and create jobs in both states.

After meeting with Gregoire, he said he believes Washington simply wants the permit process done properly and to ensure the project meets state regulations. “I don’t find any of that objectionable,” he said.

“Everything I’ve heard about this company is that they are absolutely determined to play by the rules and regulations,” Gregoire said.

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