Q: Why is the Millennium Bulk Terminals proposal going through an environmental review?

A: Millennium Bulk Terminals – Longview (MBTL) LLC, based near Longview, Washington proposes to construct and operate a shipping terminal to export coal at the site of the former Reynolds Aluminum smelter in Cowlitz County. The MBTL proposal is for a facility that would ultimately have the capacity to handle 44 million metric tons of coal annually. The coal would be brought in by rail and exported by ships. In order to construct this facility, Millennium needs to seek a number of building and environmental permits. Before permit decisions can be made, an environmental review process must occur.

Q: Why are environmental impact statements (EISs) being prepared?

A: The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) require an environmental review before a federal, state, or local agency takes certain types of agency action such as issuing a permit or approving plans. Typically, receipt of a permit application triggers an environmental review. A federal EIS is being prepared for this project, as required by NEPA, and a state EIS is being prepared as required by SEPA. An EIS must be prepared when a lead agency determines a proposal is likely to have significant adverse environmental impacts. The EIS provides comprehensive and objective evaluation of potential environmental impacts, reasonable alternatives, and mitigation measures that could avoid or minimize adverse impacts.

  • General Questions (click to expand)

    Q: What is a lead agency?  Who is the lead agency for this project?

    A: There are three lead agencies collaborating on the environmental review for the MBTL proposal – Cowlitz County, Ecology, and the Corps. Cowlitz County and Ecology are following the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) and the Corps is following the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The agencies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to conduct a synchronized environmental review process as Co-Lead Agencies under their respective regulatory authorities. Cowlitz County and Ecology will jointly oversee preparation of a SEPA EIS and the Corps will oversee the preparation of a NEPA EIS.

     

    Q: What are the responsibilities of Ecology, Cowlitz County, and the Corps?

    A: The agencies are responsible for ensuring that their respective federal and state environmental rules and regulations are followed thoroughly, rigorously and without bias throughout the environmental review process for this project. The public expects us to do a thorough review and to make sure all the potential impacts are disclosed, evaluated, and appropriately addressed. This type of review is ultimately what we do on every project requiring an EIS. The agencies are neutral decision makers who do not take a position “for” or “against” project proposals.

     

    Q: What are the specific scopes unique to SEPA and NEPA regulations?

    A: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) implements NEPA consistent with Federal regulations at 33 CFR 325, Appendix B (NEPA Implementation Procedures for the Regulatory Program). The Corps extends its scope of analysis beyond the activities requiring a Department of the Army permit only where the Corps has sufficient control and responsibility to warrant review. The Corps is not considering impacts that may occur in association with the overall coal export process, such as rail traffic, coal mining, shipping coal beyond the territorial seas, and burning coal overseas, to be the effects of the Corps’ action. These activities are beyond the Corps’ control and responsibility.

     

    Cowlitz County and Ecology implement SEPA in accordance with chapter 197-11 of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC), and must consider any probable, significant, adverse environmental impact from a proposed project consistent with WAC 197-11-060. Such impacts are subject to review, and possibly mitigation and/or denial, if the impacts cannot be mitigated. SEPA does not limit its scope to those aspects within the jurisdiction of the regulatory agencies, including local or state boundaries. The extent of the SEPA analysis (whether in a checklist to inform a threshold determination or in an EIS) is determined case-by-case. Additional information on what the SEPA EIS will study is provided in the FAQ section on the SEPA EIS below.

     

    Q: What is the benefit to a coordinated Environmental Review Process?

    A: By working collaboratively during the  environmental review process, the federal NEPA and Washington’s SEPA requirements will be addressed in a more efficient and streamlined manner. The goal is to simplify the review process by sharing relevant processes and information about the project

     

    Q: What impacts will be included in each EIS?

    A: The scoping process has helped identify which potential direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental impacts to include in each EIS.

     

    Q: When will the EISs be completed?

    A: Preparing an EIS for a complex project is typically a multi-year process. A timeline has not been determined yet for completing the EISs for the MBTL proposal. Check back on this website for project and schedule updates.

     

    Q: Will the EIS documents decide whether the proposal will happen or not?

    A: No, the primary purpose of an EIS is to provide an impartial evaluation of a proposal’s likely impacts on the human environment. It includes objective discussions of environmental impacts, reasonable alternatives, and mitigation measures that would avoid or minimize adverse environmental impacts. The NEPA and SEPA EISs will be used by agency decision-makers to inform their permit decisions or other approvals.

     

    Q: Who makes the final decision whether the proposal is approved or not?

    A: No single agency makes a final approval or disapproval for the entire proposal. The proposal will need multiple permit decisions from a variety of federal, state, and local agencies. Permit decisions by federal, state, and local agencies cannot be can be made until after the EIS process is complete. Each permit has its own regulatory process, timeline and requirements.

     

    Q: Has the construction for the proposal already started?

    A: No. Construction for the proposal cannot start before the EIS processes and then permit decisions are completed.

     

    Q: How much coal will be handled at the proposed facility?

    A: The MBTL proposal is for a facility that would ultimately have the capacity to handle 44 million metric tons (48.5 million U.S. tons) of coal annually.

     

    Q: Where do I vote on the proposal?

    A: The EIS process is not a vote.  NEPA and SEPA are intended to identify and evaluate probable environmental impacts and for the development of mitigation measures that would reduce adverse environmental impacts. The EIS document is an impartial, comprehensive document that is used by agency decision-makers for their permitting processes.

     

  • Contract Information

    Q: Who will be preparing the two EIS documents?

    Ecology, Cowlitz County, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have hired a consultant to prepare the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) environmental impact statement (EIS) documents. The consultant works directly for the agencies.  This type of arrangement is called a “third party consultant.” ICF International is the consultant hired by the Co-Lead Agencies.

    A: Who pays for the EISs?

    The applicant is responsible for funding the EISs. This includes the consultant who was hired by the co-lead agencies and who takes direction from the agencies. The applicant is not allowed to direct or influence the consultant’s work.

    Cowlitz County administers the contract for developing the draft EISs, and the applicant reimburses the county for these costs. The applicant also pays the county’s direct costs, consistent with the handling of other applications.

    Q: Where can I find the contract between Cowlitz County and ICF?

    The contract is posted here:

    Personal Services Agreement Third Amended Scope of Work Cowlitz County and ICF/Jones & Stokes
    July 15, 2014

    Cost Estimate for Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview - NEPA and SEPA
    July 15, 2014

    Q: What is the cost of the contract?

    A: The contract for this phase of the environmental review is for $4,870,800. The contract covers the development of the two draft EISs. Since some of the work will not be fully determined until further in the process, such as analysis of coal dust and human health, we have built in “placeholders” to be filled in later.  Additional contract amendments are expected that would include funding for these areas so this contract does not contain the final cost.

    Q: Why will there be several amendments for the contract?

    The contracting is done in phases to break a very large project into more manageable pieces.  Amendments allow the co-leads to ensure new or changing information is included in the development of the draft EISs.

    Q: What work is included in this contract?

    A: This contract covers the study and information-gathering work needed to prepare two draft EISs – one under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) and one under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

    The contract identifies which elements of the environment will be studied. For many elements, the contract includes information on how they will be studied, including methodologies. Detailed information on all the elements is not included yet as some topics need further discussion, so amendments will be needed as the work on the draft EISs continue. This contracting process allows the consultant to begin work now on most of the elements of the environment and to address additional information later as well.

    Q: What information will be in the draft EISs?

    A: The draft EISs will include impartial and factual discussions of the potential impacts of the proposal, reasonable alternatives to the proposal, and mitigation measures that would avoid or minimize the adverse impacts.

    Q: The information will include:

    A:
    • Existing conditions of the project site and surrounding areas

    • Laws, regulations and permits that apply to the proposal

    • Potential significant impacts

    • Studies, modeling, or other reviews used to determine the project’s impacts

    • Mitigation measures that would reduce or eliminate the environmental impacts

    • Significant adverse environmental impacts that cannot be mitigated

    Q: When will the draft EISs be issued?

    A: The release date will depend on how long it takes to complete information gathering and analysis, but the draft EISs could be ready for public review in 2015. This is a planning estimate, not a regulatory requirement, and could change. To be notified when a draft EIS is issued, please sign up for our LISTSERV.

  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

    Q: What is NEPA?

    A: NEPA stands for National Environmental Policy Act. NEPA requires federal officials to consider environmental values alongside the technical and economic considerations that are inherent factors in federal decision making. NEPA calls for the evaluation of reasonable alternatives to a proposed federal action; solicitation of input from organizations and individuals that could potentially be affected; and the unbiased presentation of direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental impacts of the federal action. This information is used by a federal official before taking an action, such as making a decision on whether or to not to issue a permit. The Corps has agency-specific procedures for implementing NEPA found at 33 CFR 325 Appendix B.

    Q: What will the Corps document in the federal EIS?

    A: Under NEPA, the Corps’ scope of analysis includes the activities requiring a Department of the Army permit from the Corps plus those activities outside of waters of the U.S. over which the Corps has sufficient “control and responsibility.”  The Corps’ scope of analysis for this EIS will include the entire MBTL project area and any off-site area that might be used for compensatory mitigation.  The project area consists of the approximately 190-acre shipping terminal project site, the area that would be dredged, the dredged material disposal site(s), and any other area in or adjacent to the Columbia River that would be affected by, and integral to, the proposed project.

  • State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

    Q.  What will be included in the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) environmental impact statement (EIS) analysis?

    A. An important purpose of an EIS is to provide the public and agencies with information about the effects of a proposal. The EIS entails an objective analysis of environmental impacts, reasonable alternatives, and mitigation measures that avoid or minimize adverse environmental impacts.

     

    Cowlitz County and Ecology decided the environmental review will evaluate the standard SEPA elements of the environment (including earth, air, water, plants and animals, energy and natural resources, environmental health, land and shoreline use, transportation, and public services and utilities). These are defined under WAC 197-11-444.

     

    The scoping direction being provided to third party contractors in February may change and evolve, based on information assembled in the course of the assessment; the scoping directive provides the starting point for environmental review.

     

    Q. Will this SEPA EIS study the impacts of air pollutants like greenhouse gases?

    A. Greenhouse gases are air pollutants and will be studied in the EIS. The EIS will contain an evaluation of impacts associated with the project from greenhouse gas emissions including those from terminal construction and operations, rail and vessel traffic, and end-use coal combustion.

     

    The analysis does NOT include evaluating environmental impacts within any country importing the coal. A question the environmental impact statement will analyze is the amount of greenhouse gases attributable to the project.  Greenhouse gases contribute to climate change which in turn can affect snow pack levels, ocean acidification and wildfire season in Washington.

     

    Q. Will this SEPA EIS study rail transportation impacts?

    A. Yes, Cowlitz County and Ecology view the increase of 16 train trips a day in and out of Cowlitz County as a potentially significant adverse impact.

     

    The draft EIS will provide a detailed assessment of rail transportation impacts within Cowlitz County as well as a less detailed but still thorough evaluation of impacts elsewhere in Washington.  A more general discussion of out-of-state rail impacts will also be included. The study will look from the mine site to the facility.

     

    Q. Will this SEPA EIS study vessel transportation impacts?

    A. Yes, Cowlitz County and Ecology view the increase of 140 ship transits a month in the Columbia River as a potentially significant adverse impact.

     

    The draft EIS will provide a detailed assessment of cargo-ship impacts in the Columbia River, such as from air pollution or possible spills, with a more general discussion of impacts in open ocean waters.

     

    Q. Will this SEPA EIS study human health impacts?

    A. Potential environmental and human health impacts will be examined using a tiered approach. The most detailed analysis will occur in Cowlitz County. Probable impacts to human health will also be evaluated along the transportation routes in Washington.

     

    Q. What overall geographic area will be studied in the SEPA EIS?

    A. SEPA includes a specific section that directs lead agencies to look beyond their jurisdictional boundaries for environmental impacts that are probable as a result of the project -- because impacts don’t stop at county or state borders.  (WAC 197-11-060)

     

    Cowlitz County and Ecology will use a tiered approach when looking at impacts associated with
    the project:

    • The most detailed analysis will be done on the probable impacts within Cowlitz County.

    • The study will also analyze probable impacts in other locations in Washington.  The level of analysis will be based on the likelihood and significance of a particular impact due to the proposal.

    • Outside of the state, the study will include less detailed discussion on some impacts.

     

    Q. What types of probable impacts would be looked at in Washington State?

    A. To determine if there are probable, significant, adverse environmental impacts Cowlitz County and Ecology need to complete the study phase of the EIS. The study phase will gather data and conduct analysis for the standard SEPA elements of the environment. The findings from the analyses will help identify the probable, significant, adverse environmental impacts that will be discussed in the EIS. Just because a topic is studied, does not mean the agencies have determined that there are probable impacts. During the process the agencies will gain the information needed to identify impacts.    Examples of elements that will be studied in Washington State include rail transportation, vessel transportation, environmental health, and air pollutants such as diesel particulates, dust, and greenhouse gases.

     

    Q. When will the draft SEPA EIS be available for public comment?

    A. Cowlitz County and Ecology are committed to preparing a draft EIS in as timely a manner as reasonably possible. The agencies do not yet have a target date for issuing the draft EIS.  This cannot be determined until a signed contract is in place, and with agreement from the project applicant to fund the new work.
    The applicant pays for the contract, while the county and Ecology oversee and direct the contractor’s work. Once the draft EIS is complete, Cowlitz County and Ecology will hold a public comment period.
    Check back on this website for updates or sign up for email notifications with the LISTSERV.

     

    Q: What is SEPA?

    A: SEPA stands for State Environmental Policy Act. SEPA requires agencies to take environmental factors into consideration before taking action on proposed projects, such as making a decision on whether or to not to issue a permit. SEPA has two main avenues for considering environmental factors – through an environmental checklist or an EIS. SEPA calls for the evaluation of reasonable alternatives to a proposed local or state action; solicitation of input from organizations and individuals that could potentially be affected; and the unbiased presentation of direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental impacts of the action.

    SEPA provides opportunities for the public to have a voice at key points in the environmental review process:

    • During scoping (Scoping period now closed)

    • When a draft EIS is issued (Check back on this website for updates)

    Q. When will the SEPA EIS be completed?

    A. Preparing an EIS for a complex project can be a multi-year process. A timeline has not been determined yet for completing the SEPA EIS for the Millennium proposal. Check back on this website for updates.

     

    It’s important to emphasize that the environmental review process is not a decision. It is not a permit.
    It is not a yes or no about this project. The purpose of an EIS is to conduct an assessment of probable, significant and adverse impacts from the proposal and possible mitigation measures (measures to
    offset impacts).

     

     

  • Scoping

    Q: What is a scoping meeting?

    A:   A scoping meeting is an opportunity to involve and hear from interested parties including the public, local communities, tribes, and agencies in the environmental review process. It allows the Co-Lead Agencies to identify issues and concerns.

    Q: What is the purpose of scoping?

    A: The purpose of scoping is to determine the "scope" or content of each EIS. The scope identifies the potential environmental impacts and alternatives that need to be evaluated. The scoping process allows the public, communities, tribes, and agencies to recommend impacts and alternatives to evaluate in the EIS and help identify issues and concerns.

    Q: How can I submit comments?

    A:  The scoping period is now closed and all scoping comments have been collected. There will be another opportunity to comment when the draft EIS is released for public review. Check back on this website for updates or sign up for the MBTL EIS LISTSERV.

    View our privacy policy

    Q: Is the scoping meeting a public hearing?

    A: No.  A scoping meeting is not a public hearing. Public hearings have formal procedural and legal steps that differ from scoping meetings. NEPA and SEPA are intended to identify and evaluate potentially significant environmental impacts and mitigation measures that could avoid, reduce, or minimize adverse environmental impacts. The EIS documents are an objective, comprehensive document used by agency decision-makers to inform their permitting and other decisions. Although scoping meetings are not required by SEPA or NEPA, the Agencies decided to offer five public meetings around Washington where people could learn more about the proposal and provide written and/or verbal comments to help inform the DEISs. People did not have to attend scoping meetings to submit comments – there were a variety of ways to do this and all comments are being treated equally.

    Q: What should scoping comments address?

    A: Public comments on the scope of each EIS help the Agencies determine what should be addressed in each document. Comments may address:

    • A reasonable range of alternatives (identification of an alternative site for a terminal, or identification of an alternative approach to bulk material handling that achieves the proposal’s objective).

    • Potentially affected resources and extent of analyses (identification of natural, cultural, or community resources that will be potentially affected and the extent of study and analyses that is needed to understand the potential impacts)

    • Significant unavoidable adverse impacts

    • Measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate (offset) effects of the proposal

    Q: Does it matter what method people used to make a scoping comment?

    A: No. All comments are valued equally no matter what method was used.  It doesn’t matter if a comment was submitted online, via email, via U.S. mail, or recorded verbally. All comments were considered equal by the Co-Lead Agencies. However, remember that only those comments submitted within the scoping period dates were considered for each Draft EIS.

    Q: Will comments marked as “US Army Corps of Engineers (NEPA)” or “Cowlitz County and the Washington State Department of Ecology (SEPA)” be read and considered only by the target agencies?

    A: No.  The intent of these boxes was to help the EIS team organize and understand the intended focus of each of the many scoping comments received.  Each comment has been reviewed by the EIS team for applicability under SEPA and NEPA.

    Q: When and where were the public scoping meetings held?

    A: Five public scoping meetings were held throughout Washington, as listed below:

    • Closed- Longview. Tuesday, September 17, 2013. Cowlitz County Expo Center  12pm-8pm
    Open House: 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Oral comments: 1pm to 4pm NEPA and 5pm to 8pm SEPA

    • Closed- Spokane. Wednesday, September 25, 2013. Spokane Convention Center  5pm-8pm

    • Closed- Pasco. Tuesday, October 1, 2013. The Trac Center  5pm-8pm

    • Closed- Clark County. Wednesday, October 9, 2013. Clark County Fairgrounds  12pm-8pm
    Open House: 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Oral comments: 1pm to 4pm NEPA and 5pm to 8pm SEPA

    • Closed- Tacoma. Thursday, October 17, 2013. Tacoma Convention Center  5pm-8pm

    Q: With the scoping period closed, is there another chance for me to comment?

    A: Yes. There will be another opportunity to comment when the Draft EIS is released for public review. Check back on this website for updates. Also, there are several ways to receive updated information:

    • Sign up for the MBTL EIS LISTSERV for email announcements of meetings.

    • Media releases will be sent to newspapers and radio stations announcing meeting dates.

    SEPA Register

    Federal Register notice

    This website and Ecology’s website

     

  • Public Involvement

    Q: How can I be involved in the EIS process?

    A: Public input is a crucial part of the SEPA and NEPA process and there are several opportunities for individuals and organizations to submit their comments on the MBTL proposal. Interested parties including the public, local communities, tribes, and agencies are encouraged to comment in the EIS process in the following ways:

    • During scoping meetings and the scoping comment period from August 16 - November 18, 2013
     (Now Closed).

    • When the Draft EISs (DEISs) are published, there will be public hearings and  public comment periods.

    • During the permit application review processes of agencies.

    • For more information, please view:

    Citizens Guide to SEPA Review

    Citizen’s Guide to the NEPA – Having Your Voice Heard

     

    Q: When and where were the public scoping meetings held?

    A: Five public scoping meetings were held throughout Washington, as listed below:

    • Closed - Longview. Tuesday, September 17, 2013. Cowlitz County Expo Center  12pm-8pm
    Open House: 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Oral comments: 1pm to 4pm NEPA and 5pm to 8pm SEPA

    • Closed - Spokane. Wednesday, September 25, 2013. Spokane Convention Center  5pm-8pm

    • Closed - Pasco. Tuesday, October 1, 2013. The Trac Center  5pm-8pm

    • Closed- Clark County. Wednesday, October 9, 2013. Clark County Fairgrounds  12pm-8pm
    Open House: 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Oral comments: 1pm to 4pm NEPA and 5pm to 8pm SEPA

    • Closed- Tacoma. Thursday, October 17, 2013. Tacoma Convention Center  5pm-8pm

    Q: How can I submit comments?

    A: The scoping period is now closed and all scoping comments have been collected. There will be another opportunity to comment when the draft EISs are released for public review. Check back on this website for updates or sign up for the MBTL EIS LISTSERV.

    View our privacy policy

    Q: Will comments marked as “US Army Corps of Engineers (NEPA)” or “Cowlitz County and the Washington State Department of Ecology (SEPA)” be read and considered only by the target agencies?

    A: No. The intent of these boxes was to help the EIS team organize and understand the intended focus of each of the many scoping comments received.  Each comment has been reviewed by the EIS team for applicability under SEPA and NEPA.

     

     

  • Permitting

    Q:  How are EISs used for permitting?

    A: A number of local, state, and federal permits will be required for construction and operation of the facility. Each Draft EIS will identify these in detail, and each agency responsible for a permit will use the information in the appropriate EIS in their decision-making.

  • Cleanup

    Q: Is there a cleanup going on at the site?

    A: Yes. Ecology is overseeing work to investigate and cleanup the site under the State’s Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA).  More information is available at Ecology’s cleanup web page.

     

    Q: Will the cleanup at the site be affected by the EIS process?

    A: No. Ecology is overseeing work being done to investigate and cleanup the site under the State’s Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA). Cleanup efforts at the site are already in progress and are handled separately from the coal export terminal proposal. The EIS will include information about historical and current activities at the site, including the cleanup of contamination.

Public scoping is now closed. Over 215,486 comments have been processed.

 To date, more than 2,000 uniquely worded comments have been identified and posted. About 199,600 comments are form letters/e-mails, submitted by people who took part in 42 organized comment campaigns identified so far.

There will be another opportunity to comment when the draft EIS is released for public review.

 

What part of the process is being worked on now?

The Agencies and the contractor are collecting data and conducting analysis for the Draft EISs. There will be another opportunity for public comment when the Draft EISs are released.  Check back on this site for schedule updates or sign up for the MBTL EIS LISTSERV to get an email when the Draft EISs are completed.

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FAQ:

Below are frequently asked questions.

 

  • About this Site

    This website is authorized and managed jointly by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Washington State Department of Ecology, and Cowlitz County. The purpose of this site is to provide a frequently updated informational hub during the Millennium Bulk Terminals – Longview, LLC NEPA/SEPA Environmental Impact Statement development process. In addition, you will be able to use this website to submit comments during the scoping period and after the Draft EIS has been issued.

    Learn More

  • Home

    Throughout the development of the EIS statements this website, authorized and managed by the Lead Agencies, will serve as the hub of factual information about the EIS process.

    Learn More

  • Resources

    Q. What is the Millennium Bulk Terminals project?

    A. Millennium Bulk Terminals – Longview LLC (MBTL), based near Longview, Washington, proposes to construct and operate a coal export terminal at the site of the former Reynolds Aluminum smelter in Cowlitz County. The MBTL proposal is for a facility that would ultimately have the capacity to handle 44 million metric tons of coal annually. The coal would be imported from coalfields in the western United States for shipping to customers in Asia.

    Learn More

  • About this EIS

    Millennium Bulk Terminals – Longview (MBTL) LLC, based in Longview, Washington proposes to construct and operate a coal export terminal at the site of the former Reynolds Aluminum smelter in Cowlitz County. The MBTL proposal is for a facility that would ultimately have the capacity to handle 44 million metric tons of coal annually. The coal would be imported from coal fields in the western United States for shipping to customers in Asia.

    Learn More

MILLENNIUM Bulk Terminals-Longview EIS Environmental Impact Statements

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