Coal Hearing

First hearing on Millennium plans colorful, yet civil

2013-09-17T23:45:00Z 2013-12-26T13:24:53Z First hearing on Millennium plans colorful, yet civilBy Erik Olson and Barbara LaBoe / The Daily News Longview Daily News

About 2,000 people jammed into the Cowlitz Expo Center on Tuesday evening, capping six hours of hearings on a proposed Longview coal terminal in which both sides rallied vigorously but without the incivility law enforcement officials had feared.

With opponents dressed in red and supporters donning blue, the Expo Center resembled a mixed party political convention, with the reds, many bused in from outside the area, having a decided majority.

Outside, a sign on a 12-foot-tall inflatable globe declared “Coal is poison,” and a majority of people shared those sentiments when they urged state, federal and Cowlitz County regulators to conduct a broad environmental review of Millennium Bulk Terminals proposal for a $643 million, 44 million ton coal export dock at the old Reynolds Metals site.

“How much more does my neighborhood have to suffer? … Justice, not expedience, needs to be the guiding light in this process,” said Dawn Hansen, a nurse who lives in the Highlands neighborhood, located about a mile from the site.

Robert Stewart, Millennium’s general manager, testified that “the old Reynolds site is a premium site for bulk exporting commodities.”

Most of the speakers, drawn by lottery, were from the Cowlitz County area, because participants on both sides handed their tickets to pre-determined speakers in an apparent effort to boost local voices. Four buses hauled environmental supporters in from out of town for the evening meeting.

Opponent Dawson Dunning, whose family owns a ranch in Eastern Montana near a proposed coal mine, said he traveled to Longview because he’s worried the terminal will create demand that will hurt his business.

“Longview is connected to Montana ranches because the coal that comes from our backyard ends up on your doorstep. Longview is the most important town in Montana today,” Dunning said.

County officials said the hearing room in the Expo Center has a capacity of 1,800. Most seats were full, and people also milled around the hallways.

About 150 speakers testified at the hearing. Opponents worried about the potential damage from coal dust and the traffic gridlock the terminal could create in Longview with 16 train trips (eight round trips) heading through town daily. Millennium employees and supporters argued that they can handle coal safely and cleanly a while creating 135 permanent jobs and 2,000 construction jobs.

“Our site is very clean, and we as employees keep it that way,” Millennium employee Dixie Dailey said.

Labor unions have been among Millennium’s biggest supporters, but Tuesday’s hearing exposed a few cracks in union solidarity. Noting they don’t speak for the union, two Vancouver-area longshoremen said they’re worried about long-term environmental effects of the terminal.

“I like to clam dig. I like to fish. I like to take my kids in the environment,” said Cager Clabaugh, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s Vancouver-based Local 4.

Jake Whiteside, president of the Longview-based ILWU Local 21, said the majority of his local membership favors the terminal, but there still are divisions. He added that he believes Millennium is a good fit, and the company has made a good effort to work with unions.

“Longview is set up like (city founder) R.A. Long set it up — for industry. Millennium is doing good in this community because they’re cleaning up a site that’s been tainted for a long time,” Whiteside said, speaking of the contamination left behind when Reynolds closed down in 2001.

Despite the hype that preceded the hearing and the heated national debate over the issue, no media outlets from outside the greater Portland area covered the session.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held the first hearing session from 1 to 4 p.m., which was much more sparsely attended. Cowlitz County and the state Department of Ecology conducted the second go-around in the evening, from 5 to 8 p.m.

In the hour between the two hearings, Millennium and opponents held dueling, back-to-back rallies. Several hundred anti-coal protesters cheered and unfurled banners despite a downpour that soaked their clothes through.

Dan Carpitha of Enumclaw brought a flute to play a Native American prayer song before both the rally and the second round of hearings. His mother’s tribe is the same as Sacajawea, he noted, and he’s opposed to the coal terminal, saying he’s concerned about generations to come.

The promised coal jobs, he said, remind him of “a bartender who continues to serve an obviously intoxicated customer because he needs the money.”

Wearing a red anti-coal shirt and purple hat, Doris Disbrow stood on a sidewalk waving at cars, cheering when she got a thumbs up and brushing off people who yelled they support coal.

“I love Longview and I’ve been involved in historic preservation so I know the importance of industry. … I didn’t put an (anti-coal) sign in my yard until two weeks ago because I was still deciding. If it was 2,000 jobs I’d be all for it, but not for 130. … I’m not against development and jobs, but I don’t want coal jobs,” she said.

Inside the floral building on the Cowlitz County Fairgrounds, about 200 Millennium supporters gathered behind a banner highlighting Cowlitz County’s high unemployment rates.

“This is exactly the type of private investment we need in our community,” said Longview City Councilman Mike Wallin.

Near the main entrance to the fairgrounds, Kelso’s Jeff Childers, a Millennium employee, handed out blue stickers and talked to visitors. Coal opponents, he said, don’t really understand how often coal is used in society. Our water treatment plants use coal filtration, as do respirators, he said.

“This is the most family orientated company I’ve worked for,” he said. “I see this as a good thing.”

The purpose of the “scoping” hearings was to gather public suggestions for what issues should evaluated in the environmental impact studies of the terminal proposal. Four others will be held statewide over the next several weeks.

Officers from three police agencies and two fire agencies were stationed around the fairgrounds and Expo Center. No disruptions were reported. Supporters waved signs and gave a thumbs up to support speakers but did not applaud, at the request of moderators.

Police and firefighters questioned the man who inflated the giant globe, Eric Ross of Vashon Island, because of concerns that a similar prop had exploded during another anti-coal rally in the Puget Sound area last year.

Daily News reporter Tony Lystra contributed to this story.

Copyright 2015 Longview Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(47) Comments

  1. subieman
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    subieman - September 17, 2013 10:22 pm
    The hearing went well when I was there...
  2. Don C Steinke
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    Don C Steinke - September 18, 2013 5:51 am
    I was surprised at the number of people at the first hearing who essentially said, "Go ahead and study the impacts here as is standard procedure, and don't study the impacts on Vancouver, Washougal, Stevenson, White Salmon, Spokane, Idaho and Montana." Benefits for us, and ignore everyone else.

    The Vancouver Waterfront Development will not get built if the Longview Terminal is built, and it would provide twice as many construction jobs.

    The Longview Coal Terminal will undermine our economy.
  3. kitten
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    kitten - September 18, 2013 6:01 am
    There is a difference between using coal for a water filter and shipping millions of tons of it to already over-polluted countries that have no regard for the global environment. As I read the article, I noticed that once again there was no real answer to the transportation concerns. And once again I will ponder the intelligence of putting a coal plant on top of our local water treatment plant. The studies showing that as a safe site didn't include several inches of coal dust around.
  4. Diane Dick
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    Diane Dick - September 18, 2013 7:18 am
    The editor of TDN knows a picture is worth a thousand words and claims news stories represent objective reporting of events, untainted by the business end of running a newspaper. If this is true TDN could have selected a truer picture for the front page of their paper edition. The sea of red in the hearing room overwhelmed the trickle of blue about 4 to 1, as did the speakers. I hope the photographer didn't hurt himself to get the angle on that shot.
  5. yzmomma
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    yzmomma - September 18, 2013 8:35 am
    I attended also & the presence of union workers of course they are told to participate, more union money, not jobs. They only predict 130 jobs, most times it's only half that in reality. Is the effect of coal not more important than a few jobs? Your quality of life, the mighty Columbia taking a risk is not worth it for only the coal companies will really profit not anyone in Cowlitz county or the pacific northwest, we only use 4% energy from coal & 2 states use none! We must find better jobs
  6. Andru
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    Andru - September 18, 2013 9:05 am
    Funny how the Longshoremen are trying to have it both ways. Officially, they're about the biggest supporters of the terminal. Then, a couple show up to voice some mild concerns at the hearing. Make no mistake about where they stand. Solidarity.
  7. klynn2006
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    klynn2006 - September 18, 2013 9:39 am
    Maybe the "sea of red" in the hearing room was because there were 4 bus loads of them brought in from OUTSIDE THE AREA! Just a bunch of environmentalists.
  8. Diane Dick
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    Diane Dick - September 18, 2013 10:50 am
    The Longview hearing was the best opportunity for Millennium to show public support for the project and even with a free barbecue the number of speakers supporting them would not have filled one bus. The people from outside our community testifying against will be negatively impacted by the coal terminal. They had a right to be here. Think how much less support Millennium will have at the hearings in Spokane, Vancouver, Pasco, Tacoma where ALL the impacts will be negative.
  9. Acruzy
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    Acruzy - September 18, 2013 10:59 am
    I was there listening to all the so called even response by Red and Blue big majority of the Reds were from out of town . We as Blue did have one from Austrial . One remark that got me was this Lady getting up and showing a cloth with dirt on it. My car which is new has been parked down Milliennum all day and has never come home covered with COAL they are very careful even now , in how the dust is controlled . also how could 16 mile trains even be towed through this town . yes am for BLUE
  10. See the Light
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    See the Light - September 18, 2013 11:11 am
    I witnessed the union people arriving from outside of Longview too - your Oregon license plates gave you away.
  11. grams
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    grams - September 18, 2013 11:18 am
    kitten - you bet there is a difference between coal and "CHARCOAL"used for a water filter. Charcoal is a bi-product of a renewable product- Wood! . Different critters all together.
  12. gimpy
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    gimpy - September 18, 2013 1:14 pm
    My favorite commenter was the Weyerhaueser employee who came directly from work, dressed in coal dust-covered work clothes and testified that Longview "will become a toilet" if we let this coal export facility locate here. Pretty hard to argue with that. And thank you, Grams for pointing out the obvious about coal and charcoal. But that guy could be right, if we let Millennium pile coal within a quarter mile of the new city wells, we could be filtering our drinking water through coal!
  13. kellvblotter
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    kellvblotter - September 18, 2013 1:36 pm
    It is extremely narrow minded and ignorant to have the thinking that only those that live in Cowlitz Co. should be able to chime in on this project or attend the hearing...this project will affect (negatively) those living in the region, state, and across seas. Traffic/rail congestion, coal mining, coal dust, & burning coal are just a few means on how this project will impact other communities' health, environment, agricultural practices and economic vitality. Wake up and get educated.
  14. kellvblotter
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    kellvblotter - September 18, 2013 1:44 pm
    And the Aussie flown here by Millennium who said she lives in Newcastle, a coal export town, and there isn't any coal dust...she lied, straight up lied - check out this article/study - "Coal Train Pollution Signature Study found particle pollution levels from the coal wagons were much higher compared to those from passenger and freight trains."
  15. kellvblotter
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    kellvblotter - September 18, 2013 1:47 pm
    Coal business is going we also want to be a dying coal town?: "Falling resource prices have seen thousands of workers laid off in Australia, and towns like Mackay, at the heart of the coal mining region on the east coast of Queensland, have suffered more than most...Resource prices have fallen substantially and mining companies have slashed their costs"
  16. Sporty
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    Sporty - September 18, 2013 4:14 pm
    Thats just "Great"outsiders telling us what we can and cannot do.I support the export of coal 100% if the bleeding hearts really want to do something constructive open up soup kitchens and help the unemployed!Why don't the people that oppose the export of coal (jobs)print thier address so the unemployed can go to there house and eat.
  17. hippi freak
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    hippi freak - September 18, 2013 4:23 pm
    Build it and they will come! Jobs. Clean burning coal for export. Energy raises the standard of living for all. The Federal Governement reported today that the "Poverty Level" has reached 1960's levels. It that Progressive movement forward? Without jobs, what is there welfare? is that something that will give hope for a better future. Environmentalist are intellectually dishonest, We're not building a Fusion reactor here? were are sending a product overseas. Read "The World is Flat".
  18. Stalding
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    Stalding - September 18, 2013 5:57 pm
    Where's the continued money going to come from to pay welfare recipients,unemployment,ss taxes,etc, if people don't have jobs? Longview needs another major employer ! You can't live on the service industry alone. Since the timber industry took a dump several years ago,Longview has been in a slump. Get off dead center and create jobs. The EPA will definitely keep the coal industry in line,don't worry ! Thanks,Bradley
  19. Sporty
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    Sporty - September 18, 2013 7:00 pm
    Food for thought(no pun intended) who is really behind the coal dispute natural gas /oil companies do I smell competition?
  20. cowlitz88
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    cowlitz88 - September 18, 2013 8:03 pm
    kitten: "The studies showing that as a safe site didn't include several inches of coal dust around." I do not think that Millennium, or any other company dealing with coal, would be that irresponsible. I challenge you to name a single coal town anywhere that is covered by several inches of coal dust. People are acting like we are going to need plows to remove coal dust on a daily basis and are blowing the coal dust issue way out of proportion.
  21. bobmyster52
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    bobmyster52 - September 18, 2013 11:01 pm
    I wonder if a major tobacco company was planning on building a major cigarette production facility here in Longview if there would be all this hype about jobs being created? Common sense would tell me that people would be appaled that we would be catering to a buisness that kills people and causes cancer. I think you get my point. The economy will come to a grinding halt when all those log trucks cannot cross over to Industrial way for the miles long gridlock.
  22. gimpy
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    gimpy - September 19, 2013 10:17 am
    I wanted to climb on those buses and thank everyone who cared enough to take the time to come here and testify against this project. It an issue that is way bigger than just the Reynolds site. If the Corps isn't going to do a cummulative EIS, then Dept of Ecology had better step up and do one for us. And the obvious bias being shown in TDN's choice of photos is appalling. Red outnumbered blue by at least 4 to 1, but your coverage sure doesn't show that.
  23. hippi freak
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    hippi freak - September 19, 2013 1:20 pm
    You can believe in ths day and age of Enviromental oversight the EPA will be on this business like white on rice. If Millenium even has bad breath they will be fined. Think aobut it for a moment, with all the hostile environmental attitudes, why would they want to build here, instead of where they would be welcome? I'd say "blank" you and take my $$$ and Jobs elsewhere. Thankfully they are willing to take the abuse and go through the steps to bring jobs here.
  24. Diane Dick
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    Diane Dick - September 19, 2013 5:32 pm
    hippi-They are here because the larger ports have already told them to get lost. Australians are telling them to get lost. If the EPA were that conscientious the Reynolds site would have been cleaned up long ago. As it is now the actual plan on how to clean it up won't even be agreed upon until next year.
  25. grams
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    grams - September 19, 2013 7:02 pm
    klynn2006- I believe that the buss loads of "outsiders" you refer to are ligitmate citizens of both the states of Oregon and Washington.! Just as the grass roots Washingtonins and Oregonians accepted responsibility for their environment and beat Bradwood Landing's LNG emminant domain issues, so shall we fight this OUTSIDE THE AREA multi million dollar OUT OF STATE & COUNTRY INDUSTRY that offers so little back for so much MIDUS returns to their pockets . They Bribe with promises!
  26. Treefarmer
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    Treefarmer - September 20, 2013 6:29 pm
    The union-bashers among the commenters need to remember how many service jobs and positions are directly supported by industrial and construction workers. These people spend the majority of their paychecks here in Cowlitz Co. on groceries, prepared food, health-care, lumber, hardware and every other commodity. This creates 4 to 5 support jobs for every "overpaid" industrial job. They even get to kick in a fair amount to the Welfare System that benefit so many of our local residents.
  27. Hawkeye Pierce
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    Hawkeye Pierce - September 20, 2013 9:47 pm
    Dan Coffman stood up and said Millenium would double the membership of his union hall. Twice as many longshoreman is exactly what we need. This town was built by working people for working people. If you want to live in a retirement community you need to move to one. Some red shirt got in front of me at the meeting acting like she was scooting by but stood in front of me rambling her nonsense. They act like rude children.
  28. Diane Dick
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    Diane Dick - September 21, 2013 10:18 am
    Assuming the longshoremen for new jobs actually live in this community and spend all their money here, and let's face it, how much of your truck payment is going to Detroit. or the house payment to a national bank or mortgage co., etc., you are not going to bring in any more money to support another local worker than you earn. Retirees are a good source for bringing outside money into a community, create jobs for local services, and pay taxes for things like education which they do not need.
  29. gimpy
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    gimpy - September 21, 2013 10:28 am
    C'mon, Hawkeye. I was there for the entire hearing and there was no rudeness on display on our side. Twice as many longshoremen? Exactly what we need? No, what we need is clean industry that would produce actual jobs, not a few people running the equipment that sends our natural resources overseas. Take a look at the average age of this community and you will find that you are living in a retirement community. Why can't we attract young professionals? Could it be that dirty reputation?
  30. TheOne
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    TheOne - September 21, 2013 12:32 pm
    I was at the meeting. First off, its a bald faced lie saying there was more opponents than those of us that support it. [Proponents for the liberals] The weyco guy that spoke is a paid salary hack who has no problem collecting a weyco paycheck.Kinda odd he is not trying to shut weyco down since that was there the "Coal dust" that coated him came from. The opposition had ZERO facts they had ZERO logic.
  31. Treefarmer
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    Treefarmer - September 21, 2013 1:25 pm
    A portion of every dollar earned in Cowlitz Co. is spent here. Same with Detroit or any other city or area. A good number of mortgages are also held by local financial institutions (think FFCU & Red Canoe). All jobs benefit the area in which they are located, some more than others. It has always seemed to me that the ones who oppose new jobs of any kind are the ones who already have one, or don't need, one!
  32. TheOne
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    TheOne - September 21, 2013 3:16 pm
    I want the job haters to explain where a private company has to offer a certain number of jobs before they can set up shop? I do not careif only ONE job is to be offered its not anyones place to decide. Aside from that. The terminal is going to go in and there is not one thing you job haters can do about it! You need to really offer more than just a stupid catch phrase. Surely you "can do better" than that!
  33. yzmomma
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    yzmomma - September 22, 2013 8:58 am
    Again, people do some research before you start spewing off! I live in Cowlitz county also & we were not bused in, do not forget the real reason we do not want to export coal, the few jobs that will be temporary here are not worth the risk to the environment or quality of life, we must continue to protect the river & the earth.
  34. TheOne
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    TheOne - September 22, 2013 10:29 am
    We saw the buses! Dont make stuff up! It was even established at the hearing!
  35. Treefarmer
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    Treefarmer - September 22, 2013 6:18 pm
    For the record... " Anthracite coal is utilized extensively for water filtration". Query on "Anthracite coal filtration" for a wealth of information on the subject filtration.
  36. grams
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    grams - September 22, 2013 11:44 pm
    Spinning facts is a great tactic used regularly by those seeking footholds in areas where they see the potential for huge profits. The facts are that a great many citizens of this state, and the state of Oregon don't want the kinds of industries here which threaten health, home and habitat. Longview does not exist in a bubble but Mellennium would try to convince some that we do . Thus "PLAN B"- become the victim. China is so needy you know ! Bad Citizens who dare fight corporations!

  37. Loowit
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    Loowit - September 23, 2013 9:17 am
    It is bad deal for Cowlitz Co. even if those trains were EMPTY and shipping air to China! 16 trips of mile long trains through our industrial area every day will hurt existing LOCAL commerce. Logs, lumber, paper, anything crossing to Oregon--all this stable commerce will slow down or move elsewhere--and to fix this gridlock will cost taxpayers $200+million. Gridlock isn't worth a few longshore jobs that only "friends and relatives" can get. This will HURT our economy, not help.
  38. Treefarmer
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    Treefarmer - September 23, 2013 10:15 am
    Grams, Longview does indeed exist in an "economic" bubble due to its location. Local citizens need local jobs unless we expect them to commute hundreds of miles per week (not good for the environment) to make a living. If we allow the vocal minority, aided by the even more vocal out of area "activists" to eliminate industry ( as your comment seems to suggest) Cowlitz County will cease to exist as we know it.
  39. Diane Dick
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    Diane Dick - September 23, 2013 6:16 pm
    Economies, jobs, communities evolve. Organisms which cannot find a niche in their environment evolve, move, or die out. Coal exporters are going the way of the buggy whip makers.
  40. Treefarmer
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    Treefarmer - September 23, 2013 7:06 pm
    Diane, If coal exports are truly on the way out as you say, why not jump on the tail-end of the bandwagon, make a few bucks, and let nature take its course. Then we can make some more money tearing the facility down and cleaning up the site. Everybody wins!
  41. Diane Dick
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    Diane Dick - September 24, 2013 10:24 am
    Treefarmer, Everybody does not win. There are too many losers, locally and globally. And cleaning up the site will not clean up the lasting problems. That we have relatively high unemployment and low education levels here is a legacy of our history being a mill boom town. We didn't diversify, didn't adapt, didn't add enough value to local exports. Young people who could not survive here left for elsewhere and will continue to leave. The terminal is worse than a mill, just a transfer station.
  42. grams
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    grams - September 25, 2013 12:02 pm
    Treefarmer. Vocal Minority? I would say that the coal meetings have had an abundant , educated, responsible , determined, group of Washingtonians, and perhaps Oregonians who do "see the forest." Monday's TDN coverage of the Wilapa Oyster fields is yet another indication of a threatened Washington industry as the result of fossil fuel use. Longview's bubble might be economic but added exposure and endangerment of our entire region to coal pollution will not entice earth friendly industry.
  43. grams
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    grams - September 25, 2013 12:15 pm
    So much has been said about Longview always being an industrial town. Very True! And that industry was made up of products derived from renewable resources. This town was built on renewable resources. Now foreign countries want us to shoot ourselves in the foot for their profit? Early on I researched China's Bulk Shipping Industry and found a Millennium Bulk Shipping site . Strange that I can no longer find said site on the internet. Well , So who really owns Millennium? Just wondering.
  44. grams
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    grams - September 25, 2013 1:33 pm
    tree farmer-- I stand corrected! indeed the highest , hardest grade of coal is Anthracite and is used along with sand and pebbles for water filtration. A great deal of this water filter product is manufactured in China, and in our coal states in the USA. However, no immissions result from the use of this product for water filtration, other than that of the mining vehicles which dig it up. I guess I must have missed that class in geology 101
  45. lookabout
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    lookabout - September 25, 2013 8:00 pm
    An Australian company wants to export our coal to China and we are supposed to be happy with this? Has the U.S, become a 3rd world country? Is that all we can export is raw materials? It's our coal. If we don't need it right now, then maybe we should just leave it in the ground, maybe our kids will need it. If we are going to mine it, Then lets build a state of the art coal fired plant generating at the old Reynolds site--with carbon sequestration and state of the art scrubbers.
  46. lookabout
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    lookabout - September 25, 2013 8:06 pm
    Then use the electricity from the coal fired plant to make aluminum. Maybe we could get back some of the aluminum production that has moved to China. Our leaders have us fighting over crumbs---when we should be demanding that they lead and come up with some valid and meaningful ideas. We need this coal export facility like we need congress to shut the government down over Obamacare. It's all just short term greed and no investment in our nation or the nations future.
  47. Sporty
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    Sporty - September 26, 2013 3:06 am
    Since the State of Florida has been using coal fired power plants for years what are the real facts? GET the FACTS and don’t use one line out of the paragraph to prove your point such as “Global Warming”. This county needs industrial jobs which will provide other jobs, get the picture.
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