League of Women Voters honored for Gateway terminal efforts

The League of Women Voters of Washington has honored the Bellingham/Whatcom League with the organization’s Citizen Award for “connecting citizens with government.”

The award citation singles out the Bellingham/Whatcom League’s recent efforts to help promote the widest possible public dialogue on potential environmental impacts of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point.

“It’s an honor to have our peers recognize our role as part of a community effort,” said Jayne Freudenberger, a former co-president of the Bellingham/Whatcom League, in a press release. “We’re proud to have joined with many other groups to give decision makers a strong representation of citizen views on a vital issue.”

According to the League’s citation: “The League took a lead in citizen education,” and “played a major part in the (Washington State) Department of Ecology’s decision to hold a (pre-scoping) meeting to address citizen questions. This meeting drew a crowd of over 800 people.” It adds that the local League also “helped secure the 120 day window for submitting (written citizen) comments” during the pre-scoping process for the environmental impact study on the proposed terminal.

The state League also commended Bellingham/Whatcom members for holding workshops to educate citizens on how to write substantive comments, mailing postcards to 17,000 landowners along the coastal railroad tracks to inform them of scoping comment opportunities and engaging the other 21 leagues across the state in the pre-scoping comment process.

The agencies responsible for the EIS—the state Ecology Department, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Whatcom County Planning & Development Services—received 124,000 written comments from a wide representation of organizations and individuals.

Although the written comment period ended Jan. 22, the citation notes that the Bellingham/Whatcom League’s website continues to provide updated information on the issue.

Founded in 1920, the League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization with 800 affiliates across the country. It encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership is open to men and women of all ages.

For information about the League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County, visit www.lwvbellinghamwhatcom.org.

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