Labor Pushes for Approval of Millennium Bulk Terminals Permit

Labor leaders are urging Cowlitz County to approve shoreline permits for the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals (MBT) export project in Longview. They argue that MBT has met state and county environmental guidelines and that the terminal will boost the economy and provide local jobs.

The project is projected to create 2,650 jobs and generate $435 million in economic activity. Once operational, the terminal would provide 135 jobs, along with $2.2 million in state tax revenues and $1.6 million in county tax revenues annually.

Recent Developments and Labor’s Response

In July, MBT received the Critical Areas Permit for wetlands and fish habitat, the first of 16 required permits. But on September 26, citing concerns about air quality, rail safety, and ship traffic, the Department of Ecology (DOE) denied the water quality permit. Labor and business leaders called the decision unfair and damaging to Washington’s economic future.

The labor community urged shoreline permit approval in a letter to the Cowlitz County Hearings Examiner. Mariana Parks, spokesperson for the Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports, emphasized the importance of family-wage jobs and apprenticeship opportunities in Southwest Washington. She noted the letter reflects deep concerns about the lack of support for these jobs and the need to build the next generation of skilled labor.

Economic and Environmental Balance

The letter was signed by several prominent labor leaders, including:

  • Larry Brown from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) 751
  • Lee Newgent of the Washington State Building & Construction Trades
  • Mike Bridges from the Longview/Kelso Building Trades Council
  • ґMatthew Hepner of the Certified Electrical Workers of Washington
  • Shane Nehls from Ironworkers Local 29,
  • Shannon Stull of the Laborer’s International Union of North America (LiUNA) 335.

Labor leaders stressed the need for balancing jobs and the environment. They praised MBT for meeting environmental standards and highlighted its long-term benefits for Cowlitz County. The project is vital for Washington’s trade infrastructure, enhancing the state’s ability to handle commodities and support economic growth. Hepner noted that Cowlitz County’s slower economic recovery compared to urban centers would benefit from the good-paying jobs and apprenticeship opportunities the terminal would provide.

Public Response

Public comments on the shoreline permit are due by November 1, with a county hearing scheduled for the following day. Hepner emphasized the labor community’s commitment to supporting the project:

“We will continue to fight until the end, or until we get it built.”

Labor leaders plan to attend the hearing to show their support, highlighting the numerous challenges MBT has overcome in pursuing the project. They believe the terminal is essential for the region’s economic future and are determined to see it approved.