Opponents were out in force over the past 120 days voicing concerns about the Gateway Pacific coal export Terminal (GPT) proposed just north of Bellingham. Agencies have received over 20,000 comments and a final number is still pending. The Washington Surfrider Chapters attended several of the 6 scoping comment hearings. Most notably, the Northwest Straits Chapter made a strong presence at the first hearing in Bellingham and then the Seattle Chapter turned out for the final hearing held at the Washington Convention Center. Activists submitted comments based on our love for marine recreation and passion for clean, healthy shorelines and oceans here in Washington. All the issues raised during the last four months must now be studied prior to the release of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).
For Surfrider Foundation, the issues we raised included impacts to beach access cut off by intense train traffic, coal dust pollution on marine waters and public health, and the threat of a major oil spill from increased shipping of coal on coastal waters. Our comments were amplified the night of the Seattle public hearing when Seattle Treasurer Nemesia Herzstein spoke in front of over 1000 people at the Seattle hearing. Click here for the YouTube video.
The comment period officially ended on January 22nd and the future timeline is not necessarily clear at this point. The DEIS was expected to be completed by the end of 2013 but with such an outpouring of resistance during the scoping period it may take longer to complete the required studies identified through the scoping process. Once the DEIS is published then the public will be invited again to comment.
After months of hard work on the ground and through various media channels, opposition to the coal terminal was apparent. Please check back here, through our newsletter, or attend a chapter meeting if you are interested in continuing to follow the process. It was a great effort by all those involved and now a little break is in order but it’s important to remember all that was done so when it’s time to comment again everyone with concerns is prepared.