NOTE: Our bi-monthly working group meeting for Tuesday May 17th has been RELOCATED to the Van Zandt Community Hall, 7-9. Please extend the invitation to neighbors across communities and counties.

You have probably learned that BNSF execs have been all over town announcing that the coal trains in route to the proposed GP coal export terminal will go through Bellingham and will not go through the South Fork Valley.  While this announcement may seem logical to those familiar with the environmental and structural realities of the route, it is bittersweet. Oh…and talk is cheap and dangerous.

The fact is that there is no shortage of coal to be shipped. If the GP Terminal is built and afterwards BNSF decides to add the Highway 9 route, it is just an internal routing decision rather than a permitted action. It is up to us to continue making our case to be included in the Environmental Impact Statement [EIS] for the proposed GP coal terminal. This announcement should not pacify us to stop taking actions to shape the public policies and decisions that will affect our businesses, land, air, water, and quality of life.

The Highway 9 route is, as always, an alternative route. Each time the Shoreline tracks are shut down [because of mudslides] or overloaded [because of increased rail traffic], trains reroute to the Highway 9 route. Presumably, this will happen more and more frequently when coal trains extending 1.5 miles long become frequent to our region.

SafeGuard the South Fork is taking the stance that ‘announcements’ of this or that by BNSF, SSA, or anyone else should not dissuade collective citizen power and strength by residents in Whatcom and Skagit County concerned about Big Coal turning our communities into a transportation corridor for their Asian markets. 

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