Brothers and Sisters,
Millennium has just wrapped up the third and final day of the Public Hearing for their Shorlines and Conditional Use Permits. From my perspective the folks who were in support of this project greatly outnumbered those who oppose this project. There was alot of great testimony that I had the chance to hear over these last few days and I want to especially thank the members who were able to attend. We are very busy Locally and yet we still managed to be present and make our voices heard, not just as individuals but as an orginization as well. The hearing examiner will now have ten days before he is required to issue his decision on these permits. Below are the testimonies given by myself (Adam Davis), and Brother Cameron Wilkinson.
Millennium Bulk Terminals Shoreline Permitting Testimony
Adam Davis, UA Local 26 Plumbers & Steamfitters
My name is Adam Davis and I am a member of the United Association of Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 26. I appreciate the opportunity to present testimony on an important issue - the planned Millennium Bulk Terminals facility – and urge that this project be granted its essential shoreline permits needed so that the regulatory process can move forward.
The proposed export facility from Millennium is exactly the type of project Southwest Washington could use these days, bringing an influx of new jobs and apprenticeship opportunities to train other workers struggling to find employment. To let this project continue to be delayed would be a disservice to those residents who need good jobs in order to support their families.
Cowlitz County received applications for two separate shoreline permits from Millennium Bulk Terminals way back in 2012. And throughout the last five years, they have done what’s been required of them in order to deliver an environmentally safe and sustainable port facility to Longview and ensure that it meets all the required shoreline policies approval criteria.
Protecting the Environment
The Shoreline Management Act and Shoreline Management Program of Cowlitz County details several policies that need to be met in order to receive permits, one of which is environmental protection.
Our members support a clean environment. After all, we live and raise our families here and want to keep Washington green. The Millennium Terminal meets that standard.
The Washington State Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County concluded in their Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) released earlier this year that the project meet both the county’s and state’s high standards for environmental protection on several fronts.
It is important to note that only water-dependent project components located within the shoreline should be looked at here. Things like the dock, trestle, and dredging impacts. Non water-dependent components like rail activity and end use greenhouse gas emissions located outside of the shoreline should not be considered.
That being said, the EIS determined that of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the Millennium Terminal, only a small amount would actually occur in Cowlitz County and the rest of Washington. Without a doubt, this demonstrates that the proposed project would keep county residents healthy and safe, a key shoreline criteria.
I should take a moment to state that the Millennium terminal project is not just being asked to mitigate its own carbon emissions but also coal that is burned or used outside of Washington by other companies. This is unheard of; no other businesses have had the same demand placed upon them. And doing so, only damages our state’s ability to compete in the global marketplace and raises the red flag of uncertainty for future business investment here.
Next, the state and county reached the conclusion in their EIS that there would be no significant environmental effect on water quality as a result of the Millennium Bulk Terminal project. Coal dust was also dismissed as a possible concern with the EIS also finding there would be no additional CO2 emissions caused by the combustion of the coal transported through the Millennium Terminal.
Another objective set forth by the conditional use criterion for any shoreline permit is that the proposed economic development must effectively operate without reducing the environmental quality of the surrounding and adjacent shoreline area. The Millennium Terminal checked off that box as the EIS found the project will not significantly impact the surrounding area’s resource and ecology and will not affect fishing and shoreline access.
It’s clear that at the end of the day, Millennium’s facility meets Washington’s high environmental standards.
Industrial use is both allowed and championed along a shoreline which is classified as an “urban environment.” And indeed, the proposed site for the Millennium export terminal has been used consistently since the early 1940s for industrial use.
Another goal laid out by the Shoreline Management Plan is a historical and cultural objective that asks a proposed project to "Protect, preserve, and restore those historical, cultural, educational, and scientific sites in the shorelines of Cowlitz County for the general public."
The Millennium project meets that goal as the company has been working for years to restore one of the shoreline’s historical sites – the Reynolds aluminum smelter site. This shoreline area has been out of action for the last decade. Millennium has taken the reins in converting the site into an economically revitalized and environmentally accountable port facility.
Good Paying Jobs
The proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals is a $650 million dollar construction project that will create good jobs that pay well and provide life-long careers in an area of our state where people need jobs as they struggle to raise their families. As we are all aware, this area hasn’t experienced the same economic revitalization that we’ve seen in Seattle and King County.
Continued regulatory foot-dragging is keeping some 3,000 direct and indirect jobs from being filled by workers who are willing and able to fill them. What’s more, state and local government will take in over $40 million each year from the project, generating some $5.9 million annually in local taxes. This is revenue that can be used to improve communities and provide more government services to those in need.
In the end, we must find a balance between creating family wage jobs and the environment. One cannot be at the expense of the other.
The Millennium Bulk Terminals project is that balance. It meets the state’s lofty environmental standards and provides jobs to a community in need. Let’s not delay any longer and approve this project to obtain its necessary shoreline permits.
Thank you again for the opportunity to comment on this important project.
Cameron Wilkinson UA Local 26 Plumbers and Steamfitters
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak before you all today. My name is Cameron Wilkinson, and I am a member of UA Local 26 and I have been a staunch advocate for union interests my entire career.
I am here today to voice my support for the Millennium Bulk Terminals project and to stress the importance of approving these shoreline permits and allow this terminal to move forward now.
Longview has a long history of safe and efficient cargo transfer, and has a real opportunity to benefit from redeveloping the existing industrial land along the Columbia River. However, while our natural deep-water ports and geography bolster our position as a trade hub, business, investment and jobs will avert course if we have policies that actively discourage infrastructure investment.
But that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice the environment and natural beauty that makes Washington such a beautiful home to all of us. Millennium has worked hard and dedicated millions of dollars over the last five years to make sure they are in compliance with all environmental standards, especially with regard to the protection of the shoreline along the Columbia River.
But first I would like to touch on the economic benefits of this project. The shorelines of our state are consistently used for industrial activity that generates needed economic development for communities across our state. Millennium is no different than any other activity.
It is important to understand that when we talk of this export terminal, we are talking not only about significant private investments in Washington’s trade infrastructure, but also about construction and operation jobs with family-sustaining wages.
Breaking down the numbers here, the $650 million dollar construction project is poised to bring jobs to the surrounding communities through approximately 2,650 indirect construction jobs, and generate more than $40 million in revenues for our local and state governments.
Together with stakeholder engagement, the Millennium Bulk Terminals project represents a sustainable investment in our collective economic future and elevates Washington’s role as a gateway for international trade.
The Millennium project further accomplishes the shoreline use criteria “for the betterment of the lifestyle of the citizens of Cowlitz County, and so located to prevent ecological debilitation from occurring.” These projects always boil down to broader efforts to better lifestyles for the surrounding communities, and the Millennium project correspondingly means new family-supporting wages in a community that has not benefitted from the same economic resurgence enjoyed by other regions in the state.
Furthermore, Millennium’s shoreline permit compliance underscores a premium on environmental stewardship and a vested interest in making sure the economic development will not affect the shoreline. Millennium has worked for over five years to bring a facility to Longview that will be environmentally friendly, and the project has been consistent with county shoreline policies and approval criteria throughout.
Last April, the environmental impact statement found that Millennium’s project met all state and federal water quality standards and found no adverse impacts regionally from the terminal.
It has already been over five years since Millennium first submitted its applications for the project. That makes this the most comprehensive review of any infrastructure project along the Columbia River – ever.
While the appeal is underway following the Department of Ecology’s controversial September decision, the permits necessary for Millennium Bulk Terminals project approval should continue through their regular public comment process and only look at the findings in that study that are relevant to the shoreline and regional impacts of the project.
I am here not only to voice my support for the project, but also to stress the importance of the jobs the project will bring to these communities in need. As you know, economic development across Washington has not been even, to the detriment of families trying to provide for their families in these rural regions.
Washington’s environmental and economic ethics are at the core of our state’s quality of life, and we are looking at an opportunity that has major long-term benefits for these communities.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to moving forward with this exciting opportunity for our local workforce. Please approve shoreline permits for the Millennium Bulk Terminals project.