Contact Dept of Ecology Today Please-Mon Nov 18th

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From my friend on the WSRP Executive Board Ruth Peterson:

I often hear people say they are frustrated because they feel expressing their opinion makes no difference. Here is an example of an action you can take immediately that can have a huge impact. Everyone needs to write a letter to the Department of Ecology and post it online at the following link – ONLINE COMMENT. Please take the time to do this now, today, because the deadline is November 18th. Below, I will explain about the situation just below my signature, and then below that, I will provide several sample letters. Please add your own words. They will tend to ignore letters that have the exact same wording, taking them as “form letters.” Also, please, even if you are as frustrated as I am over the business-killing atmosphere in this state, be polite. I can guarantee that they will not continue reading rude or abusive letters. Be professional – then they can’t ignore us. And PLEASE pass this on (in fact, add your letter to the bottom of the list below so your friends have even more options to choose from). We can only make a difference through sheer numbers, so getting the word spread around is the only way to succeed.

All the best,

 Ruth Peterson
360-245-3960 (h)
360-880-4553 (cell & messages)
There is a bulk terminal in Longview on the Columbia River that has been in existence for decades. Previous owners made a mess of it, both structurally and environmentally. A company called Millennium bought the property and has done an amazing job cleaning it up so it can be used to safely store and ship bulk items again. One of the main items they wish to ship is coal – Powder River Basin coal from Montana.
Right now, Washington State has some of the most stringent environmental laws in the country. To build any commercial building or to build a shipping terminal takes years of studies and permitting. The rules are already almost insurmountable. I agree we need to have rules that protect our environment. However, what the DOE is proposing to do is beyond all reason.
Each project requires what is called an environmental impact study. The company needs to identify any problems that could arise from their business. One example of a problem might be the fact that five more trains will come and go through Longview. They would need to provide data on what impact those trains would make on both the environment and the lives of community members. That is one small example of the issues they must identify and find solutions to. The area affected by these issues is called the scope of the project. In the past, companies had to define impacts in and around the local communities. That is the “scope” of the area they have to study. For these terminal projects, the DOE has decided to broaden the scope of their impact statement to the point of even requiring them to identify where in the world their products would go and what is done with the product after it is delivered, even if the product ends up half way around the world. The worst part is that this sets a precedent. That is why farmers and other industries are looking at these added scoping requirements with dismay. The environmentalists have turned out their activists to protest these businesses. We have not done a good job of countering the hysteria.
Here are the four unprecedented scoping items – the last two are just way beyond possible. How can they even know these things with any reasonable accuracy?
•       A detailed assessment of rail transportation on other representative communities in Washington and a general analysis of out-of-state rail impacts.
•       An assessment of how the project would affect human health in Washington.
•       A general assessment of cargo-ship impacts beyond Washington waters.
•       An evaluation and disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions of end-use coal combustion.
One more thing. There have been people who are concerned about coal being shipped by rail.  After the coal is loaded into cars at the mine, it is coated to keep any dust from escaping, so the rumors of huge amounts of coal dust is just not true. When the coal is moved, stockpiled, and loaded onto ships, they have systems in place to keep coal dust to minimum. It’s pretty amazing what they do, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll just leave it at that. Here is a link to additional information if you want to know more.
Sample letters – one long and two short – please personalize – then post it at the ONLINE COMMENT page that I’ve linked above.
Letter 1
I live in a rural part of Washington State and I love our beautiful area. I am glad that there are rules and guidelines in place that protect our environment. However, our rules need to be balanced with our economy. They can both thrive to benefit our communities. Because of this, I want to speak in support of the Millennium bulk terminal project.
Millennium has done an amazing job of cleaning up the current site and has obviously been working hard to make sure it functions within the environmental guidelines already in place. I know the “scoping” process and subsequent public hearings have created a passionate response that implied that we must choose between economics and the environment. But I don’t agree that it is an either/or question.
Communities of both Cowlitz and Lewis Counties have suffered greatly over the past several years. This terminal, working within our strict environmental regulations will provide good jobs for our families. Our existing environmental regulations are strict enough to make sure the Millennium project does not create any environmental hazards.
I believe it would be wrong to use a global environmental impact assessment. To do so would be an ideological and political move and one that would endanger our future economy. It is almost impossible to even imagine how such impacts could be measured. I can’t imagine any company would want to come to Washington State when we put impossible road blocks in front of them.
I agree with reasonable regulation and reasonable oversight in these cases, but the proposed requirements are beyond the threshold of reasonable.
Thank you,
Letter 2
Please do not require Millennium to identify global environmental impacts. This will make businesses avoid Washington State and we can’t afford that. Our current rules and laws are already strong enough to protect our environment. You will strangle businesses with this decision!
Letter 3
I disagree with using global scoping requirements for Millennium. Please support jobs. We already have enough rules for environmental protections.