Res­i­dents of What­com Coun­ty came out today to ral­ly in oppo­si­tion to the pro­posed coal ter­mi­nal at Cher­ry Point, weath­er­ing the wind and then hail as they voiced their force­ful oppo­si­tion to the project.

The ral­ly was held before a pre-scop­ing meet­ing held to explain how the envi­ron­men­tal impact state­ment of the pro­pos­al will take place.

A full house greet­ed the rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the What­com Coun­ty, Depart­ment of Ecol­o­gy, the Army Corps of Engi­neers, and the Attor­ney Gen­er­al’s Office at Belling­ham High School as they came to talk about the scop­ing process of the Gate­way Pacif­ic-Cher­ry Point coal ter­mi­nal. The first three are co-leads for the scop­ing process in order to ease the process for the pub­lic and pre­vent the redun­dan­cies which would be cre­at­ed by mak­ing par­ralel reports under fed­er­al and state laws.

Scop­ing deter­mines what will be the focus of the envi­ron­men­tal impact state­ment, and the meet­ing explained how the pub­lic, oth­er agen­cies, and tribes will con­tin­ued to be engaged, how the pub­lic can get noti­fied of the progress, as well as what sort of com­ments are use­ful in the scop­ing process (ways to mit­i­gate adverse impacts, meth­ods of analy­sis to be used, etc.).

The Cher­ry Point project would take coal mined from the Pow­der Riv­er Basin and ship it over­seas. Coal would be trans­port­ed through three oth­er states, the Spokane metro area, the Colum­bia Riv­er Gorge, and Seat­tle metro area before end­ing up near Belling­ham, in what would be the largest coal port in North Amer­i­ca.

Expla­na­tion was also made at the meet­ing as to where final deci­sion-mak­ing pow­er for the project rests, and the envi­ron­men­tal impact state­men­t’s use in aid­ing the deci­sion which will be made the What­com Coun­ty Council.

The gen­er­al sen­ti­ment in the audi­ence illu­mi­nat­ed the oppo­si­tion against the pro­posed ter­mi­nal at Cher­ry Point, and applause broke out at var­i­ous points in the meet­ing after anti-coal state­ments were made dur­ing the ques­tion and answer por­tion of the meet­ing. It is clear that a major­i­ty of Belling­ham’s res­i­dents are against the coal ter­mi­nal, both through the audi­ence and the large atten­dance at pre­vi­ous meet­ings regard­ing the coal terminal.

It looks like the What­com Coun­ty Coun­cil will not make a deci­sion for anoth­er two years, so coun­cilmem­bers are sure to hear about this project, and the ter­mi­nal will con­tin­ue to be a hot region­al issue for some time to come.

For more infor­ma­tion on the pro­posed coal ter­mi­nal, see What­com Coun­ty’s project page and the Wash­ing­ton Depart­ment of Ecol­o­gy’s project page.

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One reply on “Whatcom County residents gather to oppose proposed Cherry Point coal terminal”

  1. We have only just heard about the planned coal ter­mi­nal (pass­ing through Belling­ham, and heard it from res­i­dents) and we are dumb­found­ed to think that such a regres­sive envi­ron­men­tal step could be even con­sid­ered in this day of glob­al aware­ness re: atmos­pher­ic car­bon and cli­mate change. Sure­ly there must be bet­ter and clean­er ways to pro­duce ener­gy that would not only pre­vent release of CO2, but also would cre­ate more and enter-pay­ing jobs. This is not just NIM­BY­ism, but sound envi­ron­men­tal pol­i­cy. I trust that this plan will be reject­ed by the peo­ple who know what is best for the com­mu­ni­ty: the res­i­dents of Belling­ham. Dw

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