Longview coal hearing draws foes backers

first_imgAbout 2,000 people jammed into the Cowlitz Expo Center on Tuesday evening, capping six hours of hearings on a proposed Longview coal terminal in which both sides rallied vigorously but without the incivility law enforcement officials had feared.With opponents dressed in red and supporters donning blue, the Expo Center resembled a mixed-party political convention, with the reds, many bused in from outside the area, having a decided majority.Outside, a sign on a 12-foot-tall inflatable globe declared “Coal is poison,” and a majority of people shared those sentiments when they urged state, federal and Cowlitz County regulators to conduct a broad environmental review of a $643 million Millennium Bulk Terminals proposal to export 44 million tons of coal annually at the old Reynolds Metals site.“How much more does my neighborhood have to suffer? … Justice, not expedience, needs to be the guiding light in this process,” said Dawn Hansen, a nurse who lives in the Highlands neighborhood, located about a mile from the site.Robert Stewart, Millennium’s general manager, testified that “the old Reynolds site is a premium site for bulk exporting commodities.”Most of the speakers, drawn by lottery, were from the Cowlitz County area, because participants on both sides handed their tickets to pre-determined speakers in an apparent effort to boost local voices. Four buses hauled environmental supporters in from out of town for the evening meeting.last_img read more