In another setback to the proposed Longview coal project, a state board Wednesday upheld the denial of a key water quality permit for the Millennium Bulk Terminals project.

Millennium plans to appeal the decision, Senior Vice President of External Affairs Wendy Hutchinson said Wednesday.

The State Department of Ecology in 2017 denied Millennium’s application for a Clean Water Act certification, citing “unavoidable and significant adverse environmental impacts associated with construction and operation of the project,” according to the Pollution Control Board ruling.

Hutchinson said Ecology’s decision was based on Millennium’s planned train traffic, not impacts to water quality.

“We feel it was an improper application of the Clean Water Act,” she said. “We’re confident that the law is on our side. It’s black and white in the Clean Water Act. The question the state was asked was does this harm water quality. It does not.”

Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, co-director of the Power Past Coal coalition and senior organizer for Columbia Riverkeeper, said Wednesday that Wednesday’s decision by the state Pollution Control Hearings Board didn’t surprise her.

“Today’s ruling affirms that the nails in Millennium’s coffin are going to stay and that an out-of-state coal company cannot change Washington’s authority to protect its residents and waterways from dirty coal terminals,” Zimmer-Stucky said.

Millennium’s proposal to build a $680 million coal export facility at the old Reynolds Metals Co. aluminum smelter in West Longview has been in a permitting battle for six years and is currently tied up in many state and federal legal challenges. It would be the largest coal shipping terminal in North America.

Four U.S. senators recently sponsored a bill that would narrow the scope of the Clean Water Act in the hopes of speeding up the permitting process for the Millennium coal terminal.

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