Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Coal train EIS scoping hearing in Seattle Thurs. – speak out!

by December 13th, 2012

A public hearing will be held Thursday at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle to seek comment on how best to assess environmental impacts of a proposed freight train route to a terminal at Cherry Point north of Bellingham that would facilitate a range of international exports including coal to China. The Dec. 13 Seattle hearing will run from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 800 Convention Place, Ballroom 6F, with doors opening at 3 p.m. There will be 150 two-minute slots for comment at the hearing, and other opportunities online.

The hearing’s purpose is to seek input on what should be examined in a coming environmental impact statement (EIS) that will be developed for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal betwixt Blaine and Ferndale in Whatcom County in Northwest Washington. The facility will store and handle exports and imports of coal, grain, iron ore, salts and alumina, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It would be run by a unit of SSA Marine Inc. named Pacific International Terminals.

The 120-day comment period on the planned Gateway Terminal EIS scoping started in late September and extends to January 21, 2013. The Army Corps of Engineers, Whatcom County and the Washington State Department of Ecology have received 9,000 comments so far on scoping of the EIS for the controversial facility. More information on the scoping process is at the project site. The site includes details on the proposal.

In the new year after scoping process comments are reviewed the agencies will make public a scoping report and start working on a draft EIS that could take up to a year to complete before it is released for public comment that will the inform a final EIS. That will serve as the basis for a so-called Record of Decision, which decides whether or not a proposed project will proceed and if so, under what conditions.

Scoping comments can be made: at Seattle hearing Dec. 13, the last of six; or at the project site’s comment section; and by email to

Additional information can be accessed via a Department of Ecology news release. Other sources include an opponents’ site, Coal Train Facts, and advocates called Northwest Alliance For Jobs and Exports.


Coal Clash: Potential For More Coal Trains In Northwest Raises Congestion, Pollution Concerns,” The Oregonian

Seeking A Pacific Northwest Gateway For U.S. Coal,” National Geographic

In Northwest Town, A Local Fight Against Global Coal,” NPR

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