The Spokesman-Review deserves credit for publishing the local Greater Spokane Incorporated perspective in favor of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal coal-loading facility project near Bellingham.
GSI President Rich Hadley rightly says it’s very beneficial economically for Spokane to lie along the most northern mainline rail shipping route in this country from and to the Pacific Ocean, and itemizes the benefits of what amounts to a uniquely strategic freight-loading and transfer location for interstate and international commerce now and in the future.
There is also no question that a great deal of coal already travels through Spokane, and that the railroads and shippers take what are regarded as fairly effective steps to seal their coal cargos for dust.
However, an environmental impact statement focused only on a terminal site on the Pacific coast would not best serve the businesses and residents of our community, both urban and rural. The scope of the EIS should include assessing the impacts of such projects across the entire state and explicitly identify the full range of issues that are pertinent, those that are not, which local, state and federal agencies should address these issues, and how. This is known as a programmatic EIS.