Scoping Period & Hearing Dates for Proposed Vancouver Coal Port EIS

See announcement that follows on the just announced scoping period and associated hearing dates for the Millennium Bulk Terminals proposed coal export terminal at the Port of Vancouver.  It is time to plan for attending hearings and submitting comments on this proposal.

COWLITZ COUNTY – In anticipation of the scoping period for an environmental impact statement (EIS) that three agencies plan to jointly prepare for a proposed coal export terminal near Longview, the agencies are announcing tentative dates for scoping meetings so people can plan for them.

Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview LLC proposes to build and operate a terminal at the site of the former Reynolds Aluminum smelter in Cowlitz County.

Cowlitz County, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) are conducting the EIS process for the proposed terminal project and will jointly produce one EIS. Cowlitz County and Ecology must follow the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), and the Corps must follow the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Meetings are tentatively set for these dates and locations:

• Sept. 17, Cowlitz Expo Center, Longview
• Sept. 25, Spokane Convention Center, Spokane
• Oct. 2, The Trac Center, Pasco
• Oct. 9, Clark County Fairgrounds, Vancouver
• Oct. 17, Tacoma Convention Center,  Tacoma

The co-lead agencies expect to hold the meetings in the evenings.

The scoping period will begin later this summer. During that period, the agencies will gather comments to help them determine what impacts to analyze in the EIS. During the scoping period there will be multiple ways the public can submit comments including online, by mail and at the public meetings.

After scoping, further phases include researching and preparing the draft EIS, obtaining public comment on the draft, and preparing and issuing a final EIS.

At the beginning of the official scoping period, the co-lead agencies will post a joint website containing additional details about the scoping process. The site will provide information about dates during which comments may be submitted, confirmation of meeting times and locations, and other critical information. Until this joint website is established, information is available on the agencies’ websites.

People also can sign up to receive email announcements regarding public comment periods and meetings at http://listserv.wa.gov/cgi-bin/wa?A0=WA-MILLENNIUM-EIS.

In scoping, the lead agencies seek comments that will guide their decision on how the EIS will address:

• A reasonable range of alternatives for the proposals.
• Potentially affected resources and the extent to which the EIS should analyze those resources.
• Identifying significant unavoidable adverse impacts.
• Measures to avoid, minimize and offset – or mitigate – effects caused by the proposals.

The scoping process does not address whether the proposal should receive permits. Scoping only helps define what will be studied in the EIS. Decisions about issuing permits to construct the proposed projects will not be made until after the EIS is complete.

Before scoping can begin, the Corps must issue a Notice of Intent, commonly called a NOI. This is a formal announcement of the intent to prepare an EIS required under NEPA. Under SEPA, Cowlitz County and Ecology must issue a Determination of Significance (DS) and request for public comments on the scope of the EIS.

These formal announcements will appear in the Federal Register and SEPA Register. The DS and NOI will include detailed information on the scoping process – including the dates of the scoping period, the scoping meeting locations and times, and a description of the proposed action and project description.

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For more information:

Ecology’s Millennium Bulk Terminal page (www.ecy.wa.gov/geographic/millennium/index.html)

Cowlitz County (www.co.cowlitz.wa.us/Index.aspx?NID=138)

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District (www.nws.usace.army.mil/)

SEPA Register (https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/separ/Register/ShowRegisterTable.aspx)

Federal Register (https://www.federalregister.gov/)

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