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.