A marathon session of public hearings on Northwest Innovation Works’ proposed methanol plant will kick off Monday morning, as the Cowlitz County Hearings Examiner prepares to make the first major permitting decision needed to build the $1.8 billion project. Rallies for and against the project are planned, which will include the release of a rehabilitated bald eagle back into the wild.
The hearings will focus specifically on NWIW and Port of Kalama’s application to develop the shoreline, which is defined as the area within 200 feet of the high-water mark. The application can be viewed online at the county’s website at www.co.cowlitz.wa.us.
Three full days of public testimony and presentations are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, with an hour and half lunch break beginning at noon each day.
On Monday, the morning is reserved for presentations from the county, Northwest Innovation Works, Port of Kalama and parties such as Cowlitz Economic Development Council.The hearings will break for lunch, when proponents and opponents to the project will divide for separate lunchtime events.
Proponents of the methanol plant from Citizens for a Green Economy will host a lunch rally Monday at the Floral Building across the main Expo Center building. Meanwhile, opponents will make their way to Gerhart Gardens Park at 200 Freedom Way. There, Portland Audubon Society and Columbia Riverkeeper plan to release an injured eagle back into the wild at 12:30 p.m. According to a press release from Columbia Riverkeeper, the release of the bald eagle is meant to remind decision makers of the effects fossil fuel projects can have on wildlife and the environment.
Following the lunch events, the hearing will resume and public testimony will start at 1:30 p.m., unless the morning presentations take longer than expected.
According to the Port of Kalama, members of the public can sign up to speak for up to ten minutes. If there is not enough time, there will be additional time for testimony Tuesday and Wednesday.
Wednesday morning, the Port of Kalama and Northwest Innovation Works will have an opportunity to respond to questions and comments generated during the testimony. Exact times of the event are fairly flexible and are expected to change depending on how many members of the public testify, according to the port.