November 14, 2012
Vol: 19 No: 46

News

High interest in coal terminal proposal prompts organizers to reschedule forum

by: RC Staff

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A Seattle public forum on the coal terminal proposed for Cherry Point has been rescheduled to accommodate what’s expected to be a large crowd.

The Seattle meeting is now set for Thurs., Dec. 13, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Washington State Convention Center, 800 Convention Place, Ballroom 6F.

The first three meetings, in Bellingham, Friday Harbor and Mount Vernon, drew 1,800, 450 and 1,000 attendees, respectively. More than 6,000 comments on the proposal have been received by the agencies overseeing it.

Pacific International Terminals, a subsidiary of SSA Marine Inc. (SSA), wants to build the Gateway Pacific Terminal between Ferndale and Blaine to export and import dry bulk commodities, including coal.

The proposal has generated controversy because it would increase the number of trains carrying uncovered coal through Puget Sound, which critics say could harm the environment and tie up traffic (“Ballard resident works to put the brakes on coal trains,” RC, Nov. 7, 2012).

Citing concerns about carbon emissions, health and pollution, the Seattle City Council in May passed a resolution against the coal terminal proposal, joining several other West Coast cities.

Earlier this month the council released an independent report that projected delays at railroad crossings could increase fire and police response times.

Whatcom County, the Washington Department of Ecology and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers together are conducting the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process for the proposed terminal projects and will jointly produce one EIS. Whatcom County and the ecology department must follow the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), and the Corps must follow the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

A 120-day comment period for the NEPA/SEPA EIS scoping process began Sept. 24, 2012, and ends Jan. 21, 2013.

The EIS for the proposed projects can be viewed at eisgatewaypacificwa.gov.

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