'Coal train' impacts on Whatcom farmland subject of upcoming community forums

A “Community Conversation on Coal Trains Running Through Whatcom Farmlands” will be featured at several rural Whatcom County granges, community halls and schools during March and April.  These forums will focus on various risks to the communities along the alternate “Farmland-Coal Port Route” and will provide information on how residents can participate in the Environmental Impact Statement scoping process anticipated in June 2012.

The forums will take place from 7-9 p.m. at several locations, with doors opening at 6:45 p.m.:

— March 8, Glen Echo Community Hall

— March 22, Haynie Grange

— April 4, Ten Mile Grange

— April 19, Acme Elementary School

This tour is organized by Safeguard the South Fork–a grass roots organization whose mission is public education for agricultural and environmental integrity in the Nooksack River watershed. SGSF is gathering input on the impacts of rail expansion through our county farmlands on public costs, including health, water, air quality, and effects on existing natural resource industries, such as agricultural crops and dairies.

SGSF brings together presenters from Whatcom Docs, SGSF, Sound Baykeeper, and Protect Whatcom, including physicians Dr. Jan Peter Dank and Dr. Frank James along with a team of regional analysts including Dr. Nicole Brown Tate who will discuss the impacts and options

The “Farmland–Coal Port Route” is a contingency that has until recently escaped scrutiny, event organizers say. Despite Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s insistence to the contrary, SGSF analysts will outline the collaborative history involving regional planners, business and political interests who have been laying the groundwork for a countywide rail route and commerce corridor to the Gateway Pacific Coal Terminal.

With the advent of a major political effort by Bellingham activists and the prospect of BNSF’s ballooning coal and freight traffic backing up on the single track south of Edgemore, the probability of a “coal chain” being rerouted from Mt. Vernon, looped from one side of Whatcom County to the other, is increasingly likely. SGSF’s “Community Conversation on Coal Trains Running Through Whatcom Farmlands” will provide county residents with information to reflect upon.

Information: Jeff Margolis, co-chair Safeguard the South Fork, 592-2297 or goodbuy@everybodys.com


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