The environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal is expected to be officially underway beginning in February.
The co-leading agencies in charge of conducting coordinated environmental reviews regarding the terminal have yet to begin the actual study process of examining what environmental impacts the coal-exporting terminal will have on the Cherry Point Industrial Urban Growth Area.
Nearly six months ago these agencies — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the State Department of Ecology and Whatcom County — made an executive decision that before any preparation on the terminal could commence, they would have to create EIS reports, which would identify and evaluate how the terminal would affect the surrounding environment at Cherry Point.
Work on the first draft of these reports will not officially begin until the companies backing the Gateway Pacific Terminal have signed off on a contract highlighting exactly what information will need to be gathered and how these companies will provide financial compensation, for both Whatcom County and CH2M Hill, the company that has been hired to perform the environmental impact statement (EIS).
SSA Marine and BNSF Railway Co. are currently reviewing this contract and the potential costs involved with reimbursing Whatcom County and CH2M Hill. These companies are expected to sign off on this contract within the next several weeks.
SSA Marine and BNSF Railway Co. are currently estimated to pay between $6 million and $8 million.
SSA Marine Senior Vice President Bob Watters confirmed to the Bellingham Herald that because of the high costs involved, the contract would have to be reviewed by SSA Marine’s board of directors. This meeting will occur within the next few weeks.