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October 2013

Coal Terminals Begin SEPA Review

Written by Susan Will, RBCN editor

The environmental review processes are underway for the two potential coal terminal sites in Washington: Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point in northwest Washington and Millennium Bulk Terminal at Longview. With the expected routes to be along BNSF railroad tracks along Puget Sound, including through Shoreline, many Richmond Beach residents have been closely tracking the proposals.

The scoping period for the the Cherry Point terminal, which would be the largest coal export facility in North America according to, was completed earlier this year. According to the state, at full capacity, the terminal could export 48 million metric tons per year of coal and could generate 18 train trips per day. The next step in the Cherry Point environmental review is developing the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The Longview terminal scoping period runs through November 18 and there are multiple ways to provide scoping comments, including at meetings around the state. The closest meeting to Richmond Beach will be at Tacoma Convention Center on Thursday, Oct. 17, 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. People can also view information about the proposed projects online and provide comments at; by email to; or by mail to Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview EIS, c/o ICF International, 710 Second Avenue, Suite 550, Seattle, WA 98104.

Scoping is the public's opportunity to be involved in shaping the environmental review of a proposed project. Comments submitted during scoping help determine what impacts are included in the EIS required by both the State and National Environmental Projection Acts (SEPA, NEPA).

The most significant development over the summer concerned the state's decision to expand its environmental review of the Cherry Point facility to include the impact on train traffic and the cost to the atmosphere of transporting and burning coal. These changes were made in reaction to public scoping comments.

More information about the Cherry Point facility is available at


Friday, August 2, 2013

Coal Trains passing through Richmond Beach Saltwater Park in reporting segment of today's PBS Newshour

Transcript, Video and Commenting at this webpage:
Pacific Northwest Weighs Environmental Risks of Cashing in on Coal Export Market


January 2013

Shoreline City Council Discussion on Coal Trains

On January 14, 2013 the Council will be holding a discussion regarding the Pacific International and Burlington Northern Santa Fe proposal to build a new coal shipping terminal at Cherry Point in Whatcom County (the Gateway Pacific Terminal and Custer spur rail line expansion). The potential impacts of this project include increased rail shipment of coal throughout the BNSF rail corridors, including through Shoreline (coal trains). The coal would be destined for Asian markets.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state Department of Ecology and Whatcom County (Co-lead agencies) will conduct a coordinated environmental review of the Pacific International and BNSF applications under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).

The first part of the EIS process is the Scoping Period.

The scoping process is an opportunity to learn about the proposals, the EIS process, and provide scoping comments. Citizens may comment on the project in a variety of ways:

  1. Online at
  2. Attending a scoping meeting (see information at the bottom of the page)
  3. Make public comment at the January 14 Shoreline City Council meeting which the City will forward to the Co-lead agencies.

On January 14 the City Council will hear a presentation by staff regarding the proposal and process, and then will take public comment to include in the City's scoping comments.

Scoping Process

The Co-Lead Agencies are holding a 120-day scoping process from September 24, 2012 – January 21, 2013. Scoping is designed to gather input on four topics:

  1. Reasonable range of alternatives
  2. Potentially affected resources and extent of analysis of those resources
  3. Significant unavoidable adverse impacts
  4. Measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate effects of the proposals

The most useful scoping comments focus on these topics and provide agencies with ideas about how these should be addressed in the EIS. Decisions about what to include in the EIS will be made jointly by the Co-Lead Agencies and will be reported in a scoping report.

Project Description

The Cherry Point facility will be built to handle 54 million tons of coal annually. The terminal would be developed on approximately 350 acres and would include a three-berth, deep water wharf approximately 3000 feet long and 105 feet wide, accessed by an approximately 1100 feet long by 50 foot side trestle. Storage facilities include open air and covered commodity storage, serviced by an on-site rail loop. Development of these facilities will impact approximately 162 acres of wetlands, two streams and numerous drainage ways that flow into Puget Sound.

For more information on the project, go to:

This facility is one of many currently being proposed throughout the Northwest, including in Longview, Washington and Boardman, St. Helens and Coos Bay, Oregon.

Other Ways to Participate

GPT/Custer Spur EIS
1100 112th Avenue NE, Suite 400
Bellevue, WA 98004



In-person at a Scoping meeting:
All scoping meetings are drop-in events. The closest meeting is Thursday, December 13th in Seattle, 4 to 7 p.m. at the Washington State Convention Center, Ballroom 6F, 800 Convention Place. There is also one in Spokane on December 4th and one in Vancouver, WA on December 12th. Please note hearings have drawn large crowds resulting in a lottery for speaking times, as reported in the Everett Herald.


For Further Reading:

Association of Washington Cities (AWC) Webinars
Coal Trains Webinars at

The Association of Washington Cities (AWC) hosted a two-part series of webinars to provide information about proposed coal export facilities and the associated rail traffic. The intent of the webinars was to provide member cities with factual information from the perspectives of the various agencies that are involved in potential expansion of use of the rail system. The first webinar on October 31 included representatives that look at the expansion from a favorable position. The second webinar held on November 14 featured representatives that would oppose such expansion. A summary of the webinars can be found at the above link.


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