County Council calls for expanded review of proposed coal terminal project

The San Juan Islands and surrounding waterways should be included as part of the official study of environmental impacts from the proposed Gateway Pacific coal terminal in Whatcom County, according to the San Juan County Council

On June 26, the County Council unanimously approved sending a letter to Brigadier Gen. John McMahon, commander of the Northwestern Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, requesting that an area-wide environmental impact statement be conducted that would "address the cumulative impacts of new coal terminals in the Pacific Northwest, including the Gateway Pacific Terminal."

An area-wide EIS would include the San Juan Islands and might extend through the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the ocean.

Drafted by Councilwoman Lovel Pratt, the letter states: "The AEIS should include a comprehensive analysis of impacts to water quality, air quality, listed species, critical habitat, and aquatic resources, and well as impacts to public health and the local economy."

The letter is a follow-up to a Feb. 28 letter sent to the Army Corps, the state Department of Ecology and Whatcom County asking that scoping meetings for the EIS be held in San Juan County. The locations and dates for the scoping meetings, which will include a determination whether an area-wide EIS will be required by the Corps, have yet to be announced.

— Steve Wehrly



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