Nearly every day we read in the media about trains hauling coal from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin mines through Missoula and Spokane, south to the Columbia River Gorge, up the Washington coast and along the shoreline of our fragile Puget Sound. At issue is the construction of a deep-water port at Cherry Point, north of Bellingham, that could stockpile and export at least 54 million tons of coal per year. Currently we witness three round-trip, mile and a half long trains hauling 130-plus uncovered cars plying our state’s rail lines every day.
If approved, the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point would be the largest coal export terminal in the United States. Right now, the Federal Army Corps of Engineers, the Washington State Department of Ecology, and the Whatcom County Council (the lead agencies) are deciding which impacts to study (the scoping process) before it writes the required Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).
You don’t need to be an expert to contribute your thoughts, ideas and concerns. You can share your personal story, a concern in your community or whatever issue motivates you. The process depends on writing our concerns. Rather than stating an opinion for or against the project we need to request that the lead agencies study a particular concern. As an example — instead of saying, “I don’t want coal dust on my garden.” one should say, “Please study the adverse effect of coal dust on edibles. Will my food be safe to feed my family?” This is an example of the difference between an opinion and a scoping request.
There are many possible impacts: health and safety, economics, quality of life, and the environment. Check out a list of 101 Reasons to be Concerned about Coal Exports at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/05/02/1088274/-101-Reasons-to-be-Concered-About-Coal-Export
Now is the best time for citizen input. The deadline for comments is Jan. 21. You can mail your letters to:
GPT/BNSF Custer Spur EIS Co-Lead Agencies
112th Avenue NE, Suite 400
Bellevue, WA 98004
Or you can e-mail them to ;http://firstname.lastname@example.org>[/URL]
Or you can attend the next Scoping Hearing on Dec. 13, 3-7 p.m.
Seattle Convention Center, Ballroom 6F
800 Convention Place, Seattle