Islands' Sounder


Coal project sparks nearly 100K EIS comments

February 3, 2013 · Updated 11:18 AM

Almost 100,000 comments were received by the agencies conducting the environmental impact statement scoping process for the Gateway Pacific Terminal.

The public comment period, which ended Jan. 22, accompanied hearings across the Northwest conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington Department of Ecology, and Whatcom County, the “lead agencies” considering the project. More than 450 people attended a Nov. 4 hearing in Friday Harbor.

Most comments either opposed the project outright or asked for broad environmental review of the coal export terminal proposed by Peabody Energy and SSA Marine at Cherry Point, Wash., north of Bellingham.

Residents, businesses, organizations and elected officials called on the agencies to look at impacts from the mines, the transport of the coal along rail and shipping routes, and from burning coal at destinations in Asia. Friends of the San Juans led local efforts to assist islanders in crafting EIS comments.

“Hundreds of submissions are from San Juan County and I feel confident that we have successfully expressed concerns for the Salish Sea,” said Friends Community Engagement Director Katie Fleming.

The terminal, one of five proposed for Washington and Oregon, would be the largest coal export terminal in North America, with Peabody Energy exporting coal mined from the Powder River Basin.

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