Federal, state and Cowlitz County regulators announced Monday they have selected a Virginia-based consultant to help prepare an environmental impact statement for the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals coal dock.

The hiring of ICF International comes more than a year after Millennium submitted permits to build the $643 million dock at the former Reynolds Metals Co. site west of Longview.

The consultant will help the agencies develop a plan to collect public comment similar to what was used for the proposed Gateway Pacific coal terminal near Bellingham. For that project, the consultants held a half dozen public hearings statewide and accepted more than 100,000 public comments.

The consultants have not determined a schedule or format for the hearings, known as the scoping period, but they’re likely to take place over the summer, according to the Washington Department of Ecology, one of three regulatory agencies overseeing the project.

“The process has taken a while, nothing unusual for selecting a good consultant for something like this,” Cowlitz County Commissioner Mike Karnofski said Monday.

Cowlitz County, Ecology and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are jointly managing the environmental review for Millennium, which hopes to export 44 million tons of coal annually from mines in Montana and Wyoming to Asia.

Millennium is responsible for paying the consultant’s fees, but the company will not have access to the ICF International findings without permission of the three agencies, according to Ecology. Karnofski said the county is negotiating the consultant’s fees.

Millennium officials said they’re happy to move forward.

“Having a contractor on board is the first step with an environmental review and we’re pleased to finally move forward. The sooner we complete an objective review, the sooner we will be creating jobs and generating local tax revenues,” Ken Miller, Millennium CEO, said in a written statement.

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