Attorney General Fox Urges Proper EIS Scope for Proposed Coal Export Terminal


Attorney General Fox Urges Proper EIS Scope for Proposed Coal Export Terminal

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox and North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem have submitted joint comments regarding scoping of an environmental impact statement (EIS) for a bulk commodities export terminal in Longview, Washington.

If built, the Millennium Bulk Terminals—Longview would transport coal mined in Montana to overseas markets.

“As one of the most trade-dependent states in the nation, Washington knows full well the importance of access to global markets. Montana is simply asking that Washington regulators follow established law in conducting their reviews,” Attorney General Fox said.

Earlier this year, the Washington State Department of Ecology announced that it would conduct an unprecedentedly broad EIS for a similar terminal proposal at Cherry Point, Washington. The Department of Ecology will attempt to evaluate much more than the direct, local environmental impact of the terminal. It will also look at the global impact of using coal on the other side of the planet, as well as the impact of transporting it in areas outside the agency’s legal jurisdiction through America’s railway system and international ocean shipping. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which had originally planned joint EIS’s with state regulators, found Washington’s scope so unreasonably broad that it decided to conduct its own EIS of both the Cherry Point and Longview terminals.

Attorney Generals Fox and Stenehjem are urging regulators in Washington state to avoid overreach when evaluating the Longview terminal proposal. A Longview terminal EIS scope on the scale of that planned for the Cherry Point terminal:

    • Burdens or prevents interstate commerce in violation of the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.
    • Is preempted by Congress’ exclusive prerogative to regulate in the area of extraterritorial regulation of air pollutants.
    • Unconstitutionally usurps the prerogatives of the federal government with respect to international commerce and foreign policy.
    • Is outside the scope of the Washington state’s authority under the U.S. Constitution and Washington law.
    • Is unrealistically broad.
    • Includes speculative and indirect impacts.
    • Requires impossible assessments of foreign environmental impacts.
    • Appears to have been designed to hinder development of any coal export terminals.

“Access to overseas markets is vital to Montana’s economy,” Attorney General Fox said. “In addition to providing 1,300 direct jobs currently, coal mining provides a significant number of indirect jobs, generates tens of millions of dollars for Montana’s schools and local governments every year, and helps provide Montana state government with regular budget surpluses. Increased access to overseas markets will mean more family-wage jobs for Montanans, more money for Montana schools, and a greater likelihood of future state budget surpluses.”

Attorney General Fox’s and Stenehjem’s comments are available online here.

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