NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Whatcom County residents gather to oppose proposed Cherry Point coal terminal

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 Comment

  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

    # by Donald Wolochow, MD :: April 9th, 2012 at 10:30 PM
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