Recently there has been a debate about shipping coal through the Pacific Northwest. The coal would travel from Wyoming through the Columbia River Gorge and up the coast to the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point in Bellingham. This terminal would be the largest in North America and could require as many as 18 trainloads of coal a day to travel through here.
This is a huge undertaking and requires an Environmental Impact Statement. The coal companies want the EIS to cover the effects of the terminal only where it is located, in Bellingham. However, most people realize its effects will be more far-reaching and will certainly affect us in Vancouver and Washougal, as well as people and businesses along the entire route of the trains.
There were several hearings about this; the agencies involved received thousands of comments from local government officials and concerned citizens. Finally, those agencies decided the EIS should look at the bigger picture, not just the impacts around Bellingham.
The Aug. 1 story, “Study set for coal trains: Two-year, statewide effort planned for Cherry Point facility,” is good news for us and I am grateful to everyone who took part in making it happen. This issue could affect our health and economic well-being. I am glad our concerns will be addressed.