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Thursday, February 20, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Scoping season begins in Spokane

You have until January 21st, 2013 to comment as part of the scoping process for the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) at Cherry Point. That is 120 days to speak now or forever hold your peace. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has determined the GPT and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) rail expansion projects are interrelated and may have significant impacts on the human environment so an Environmental Impact Statement will be prepared. 

Here are the details for the Spokane hearing:  Tuesday, Dec. 4th, 2012, from 4 pm to 7 pm, at Spokane County Fairgrounds, 404 North Havana Street, Spokane Valley. 

In a statement upon news of the scoping process, Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart commented:  “The Spokane City Council previously unanimously voted to have our voice heard in the building of coal export facilities. Today’s announcement that a public hearing will held in Spokane as part of the Army Corps' evaluation process for the Cherry Point terminal proposal, is a big, but necessary win for Spokane. This announcement is only one piece of the puzzle in protecting our beautiful city. Now the Army Corps needs to commit to evaluating all of the coal export proposals, because Spokane has much to lose, and little to gain by allowing 62 new coal trains per day through our town. Such an increase would harm our air quality, transportation systems, and emergency response. Today is the first step in the right direction for Spokane in a lengthy process.”

More information is available at

Learn how to send comments regarding the EIS after the jump. 

The scoping period starts September 24, 2012 and ends January 21, 2013. Written comments regarding the scope of the EIS - including the environmental analysis, range of alternatives, and potential mitigation actions email: or via the official website established by the three agencies for the

EIS process:

Written comments concerning the project and requests to be included on the EIS notification mailing list should be submitted to: 

Mr. Randel Perry
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District
Care of: GPT/BNSF Custer Spur EIS Co-Lead Agencies
1100 112th Avenue Northeast, Suite 400
Bellevue, Washington 98004.

Scoping meetings include:

Tuesday December 4th, 2012 from 4-7pm at Spokane County Fairgrounds, 404 North Havana Street, Spokane Valley.

A continuous "on-line scoping meeting" will be hosted on the EIS website at
Potentially significant issues to be analyzed in the EIS include but are not limited to: 

project-specific and cumulative effects on navigation (e.g., vessel
traffic and navigational safety);

marine aquatic habitats, including State-designated aquatic reserves;

marine aquatic species, including Endangered Species Act listed species and Washington State species of concern; Tribal treaty rights;

wetland and riparian habitat and wildlife;

railroad and vehicle traffic;

cultural, historic, and archeological resources;

air and water quality;



land use;

and aesthetics.

Proposed Action. The construction of a new pier in marine waters and associated rail and cargo handling facilities in adjacent wetlands and plans and the expansion of an existing rail spur line into wetlands and across streams. The Corps is preparing an EIS to analyze the potential social, economic, and environmental impacts associated with authorizing the actions.

Project Description. The project sites are located in Whatcom County, Washington, northwest of Ferndale and south of Birch Bay in an area called Cherry Point.

Pacific International Terminals, Inc., is proposing the GPT project to be developed on approximately 350 acres and would include a three-berth, deep-water wharf. The proposed wharf would be 3,000 feet long and 105 feet wide, with access to suitably deep water provided by an approximately 1,100 foot-long by 50 foot-wide trestle. Upland facilities will include open air and covered commodity storage, each serviced by an on-site rail loop.

A system of conveyors would connect the commodity storage areas to the trestle and wharf. The upland facilities would also contain rail unloading facilities, roadways, service buildings, storm water treatment facilities, and utility infrastructure. Development of these facilities will result in impacts to approximately 145 acres of wetlands and numerous drainage features (ditches).

Mitigation for proposed unavoidable impacts to waters of the U.S. will be required to comply with the Corps' 2008 mitigation rule (33 CFR 322.1). Commodities would be delivered to the GPT by rail via the existing BNSF Railway's Custer Spur line from the Bellingham subdivision main line. BNSF Railway is proposing to upgrade its existing Custer Spur line with additional tracks and sidings, which will impact approximately 17 acres of wetlands and involve modifications to two creek crossings and several ditches. Mitigation for proposed unavoidable impacts to waters of the U.S. will be required to comply with applicable Corps requirements.

To date, more than 40,000 residents have written to Washington State Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark opposing coal export, 27 cities, counties and ports, over 160 elected officials – including U.S. Senator Murray, 573 health professionals, over 400 local businesses and 220 faith leaders, and some Northwest Tribes have either voiced concern or gone on record against coal export off the West Coast.

Dr. Frank James, a family phyiscian in Bellingham commented: "These trains would go through the most populated parts of our state, including downtown Bellingham, Seattle and Spokane and the rail-line communities in between. What would this mean to emergency responders, safety along the rail line, and exposure to toxic pollution in our communities? Citizens need to weigh in and make sure our state agencies and the Army Corps know that the costs are not worth it."





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