I am very pleased that San Juan County was granted a scoping hearing for the Gateway Pacific Terminal — the proposed coal export facility outside of Bellingham at Cherry Point. The hearing will be held in Friday Harbor, Saturday, Nov. 3, at Friday Harbor High School (45 Blair Avenue) from noon to 3 p.m.
A scoping hearing for GPT in the San Juans was far from a given. We were granted this hearing because many community members, local organizations and our county council asked for it.
I would like to thank everyone who helped with the effort. We put our county and the larger Salish Sea on the map. We have successfully shown that San Juan islanders are ready to take action and protect the Salish Sea from the negative impacts of coal exporting and the lead permitting agencies for GPT are coming to listen to our concerns.
We need a huge turnout at the scoping hearing. With the San Juan Islands in the heart of the Salish Sea, we will be at the center of environmental impacts resulting from increased shipping of coal exports — 947 transits of giant bulk carriers are proposed for GPT.
Join your community on Nov. 3 if you are concerned about the increased likelihood of an oil spill, the safety of recreational, commercial, and tribal boaters, impacts of increased vessel traffic on orca, fish, birds and other wildlife; the introduction of invasive species in ballast water and increases in ocean acidification associated with the carbon dioxide emissions from burning fuel and coal.
Attending the scoping hearing on Nov. 3 and commenting on GPT are the most important actions you can take to date on this issue. Please mark your calendars.
Katie Fleming, San Juan Island
— Editor’s note: Katie Fleming is Friends of the San Juans community engagement director.