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‘Aiding and Abetting’ the Use of Fossil Fuels

Environmentalists block coal exports to China.

9:00 AM, May 20, 2011 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
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Nonetheless, environmental groups’ arguments seem to have convinced the highest echelons of Washington’s government. Democratic governor Christine Gregoire claims to be neither for nor against the project, yet in early January, her Department of Ecology announced its support for the appeal, claiming that Cowlitz County “should have analyzed greenhouse gas emissions more broadly and not just in the immediate area of the Longview project.” This prompted Montana’s governor Brian Schweitzer, also a Democrat, to travel to Washington State in January to lobby for the project. It was too little, too late: In the face of furious opposition, Millennium withdrew its application for the terminal in mid-March – a move that Cowlitz County commissioner George Raiter called “bad news.” However, Millennium announced shortly thereafter that it intends to restart the application process later this year, thereby guaranteeing another fight. 

To be sure, Millennium has done itself no favors throughout the process. Emails that were leaked earlier this year revealed that the company hopes eventually to ship between 20 and 60 million tons of coal out of Longview annually, far more than the 5.7-ton figure that it publicly announced. This threw fuel on the opposition’s fire by implying that Millennium has something to hide. Yet given the philosophical underpinnings of the antagonism towards the terminal, there is seemingly little Millennium could do to quash opposition—save transforming the terminal into one that exports wind turbines and Chevy Volts instead of coal.

Ethan Epstein is a writer in Portland, Oregon

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