Summary released on Gateway Pacific Terminal scoping comments

The co-lead agencies tasked to prepare an environmental impact statement for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point have issued a summary of close to 125,000 public comments gathered regarding the scope of impacts to be studied.

Whatcom County, the Washington Department of Ecology and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers collected comments online and in a series of public meetings during the 121-day scoping process between last September and January.

In a nearly 140-page report, the agencies have split their summary into sections covering the outcomes of the seven public meetings held around the region during the comment-gathering period, the comments themselves organized into 20 different areas of concern, comments collected from tribal and government agencies, as well as from interest groups or business groups, and comments covering possible alternative actions.

The summary report can be viewed here: http://www.eisgatewaypacificwa.gov/sites/default/files/content/files/GPT_Scoping_Report.pdf#overlay-context=node/24.

Additional appendices to the summary report can be viewed here: http://www.eisgatewaypacificwa.gov/resources/scoping-report.

One important note to make is that the comments summarized in the report are portrayed as they were provided to the co-lead agencies, meaning they might not have yet been fully vetted for factual accuracy. Not all comments in the summary will actually be part of the final EIS.

Gateway Pacific Terminal, proposed by Pacific International Terminals, a subsidiary of SSA Marine Inc. of Seattle., is expected to eventually be able to store and export up to 54 million tons of dry bulk commodities annually, including coal, grain, iron ore, salts and aluminum. Coal will likely be its main commodity, and has been a driving source of controversy over the terminal’s construction.

After considering the comments, the co-lead agencies will decide what should be studied. The EIS is expected to evaluate alternatives to the terminal’s construction proposal, potentially affected resources, possible adverse impacts of various alternatives, as well as potential means to avoid, minimize and mitigate effects of the proposals, according to a press release from the co-lead agencies.

The “scoping” process will not address whether the terminal should receive various permits needed for construction. Those decisions will be made by a number of different government agencies, including the Whatcom County Council, after the EIS has been completed, which is expected to take at least one year.

The co-lead agencies will seek another round of public comments once a draft of the EIS has been completed.

Evan Marczynski, lead reporter for The Bellingham Business Journal, can be reached at 360-647-8805, Ext. 5052, or evan@bbjtoday.com


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