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Coal: EIS may be underway in February

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Posted: Saturday, February 1, 2014 2:04 am

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.

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1 comment:

  • Jeff Kropf posted at 3:02 pm on Mon, Feb 3, 2014.

    Jeff Kropf Posts: 1

    I don't have a problem with the developers paying for an EIS, but who determines the how expensive this is going to be? Since the developers have to sign a contract, how much say do they have in scoping, which directly relates to cost? Given the controversial nature of this project and the outcome of the Whatcom elections, is it out of line to be concerned that the cost of this EIS would be purposefully made expensive in an effort to discourage the developers, so they just throw in the towel? We at Oregon Export Watch are keenly interested in process, as it has enormous influence on whether any of these coal export projects are ever built, including the proposed Oregon project. Oregon's laws may be different, but precedent setting processes in WA will impact what is going to happen in OR. A fair EIS that is not unachievable is both appropriate and sets the right precedent for other projects in the future by sending a message that even controversial ideas will get a fair shake and not have the deck stacked against them because of political correctness.