Action Update: Revised Permit

As outlined below, Pacific International Terminals (SSA Marine) filed for permits with Whatcom County for the Gateway Pacific Terminal, but did not file for a new shoreline permit. Rather, they have filed for a revised permit.  You can read about it in the

This past Friday, Earth Justice, the attorneys who sued Ambre Energy for attempting to circumvent the environmental scoping process in Cowlitz County which resulted in withdrawal of the permit application there, gave notice to Whatcom County that SSA’s permit application is incomplete because it does not ask for a new shoreline permit.  The letter is here.The county has until Friday, June 23, to complete its review of the application and determine whether it is complete or should be returned to SSA. If Whatcom County Planning Division does not follow state law governing revised Shoreline Substantial Development Permits, it is possible that the county will be met with a lawsuit it would cost this county scarce resources to defend their administrative position.

Please consider expressing your opinion to Tyler Schroeder (360-676-6907,techroed@cc.whatcom.wa.us) at Whatcom County Planning & Development Services. Tyler is one of the primary decision makers in charge of the application review. If you feel inclined, you may also contact the county executive: Pete Kremen (pkremen@co.whatcom.wa.us, 360-676-6717).

RESources has some great information available on the importance of taking action during this stage of the process.

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Permits and Politics: Pacific International Terminals (SSA Marine)

Proponents of the Gateway Pacific Terminal have asked people to withhold judgments against the process until a thorough EIS review is complete.So what should we make of SSA Marine trying to subvert the process that they encourage us to trust?

Here is a copy of the letter by Earth Justice on behalf of Climate Solutions, Sierra Club and RE Sources sent to Whatcom County in response to Pacific International Terminals (SSA Marine’s) filing of a Major Project Permit and a “Shoreline Substantial Development Permit ” this past week (6/17/11).

Simply put, filing to “revise” a fourteen year old permit attempts to circumvent the law by trying to portray a 300 times larger footprint of the terminal with a 600% volume increase (meaning an increase in ship traffic from 180 to 480 annually) as a minor change. Oh, and then there is the fact that the 1997 permit authorizes the shipment of “grains, petroleum coke, iron ore, sulfur, potash, and wood chips” with no mention whatsoever of coal as a primary export product. As far as public comments regarding the scoping process and the EIS are concerned, because the legality of the permits that have been filed is an open question, we encourage you to wait to comment on the project to county officials until the public comment period is announced during the scoping process.  Once the public comment period for scoping is announced, it means that the county has accepted the permit application. This is not currently the case.

Please contact Tyler Schroeder (360-676-6907, techroed@cc.whatcom.wa.us) at Whatcom County Planning & Development Services or County Executive Pete Kremen (pkremen@co.whatcom.wa.us, 360-676-6717] to NOT PERMIT SSA Marine “at the early stage of the process—to circumvent that close scrutiny, public process and regulatory review by applying for a permit revision rather than a new permit” (Letter to Tyler Schroeder 6/17/11.)

>ACTION: Public Assembly and Shoreline Master Program Hearing

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To everyone working to stop coal export from the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal and the coal trains, please pass this on to everyone on your lists. 


The City of Bellingham’s Shoreline Master Program Hearing is Wed, May 25. Aligned with this important hearing related to water and shoreline rights, there are opportunities for getting informed and involved on the coal export issue also facing Whatcom County. 

Coal Export Strategy Meeting and Poster Making, The Old Foundry, Tuesday, May 24, 5:30

Anything Grows at The Old Foundry 100 E. Maple St. Bellingham would like to offer support in your efforts. We are holding a planning meeting for addressing the coal port implementation. All committed activists and organizations are welcome. We will also be sign making for the protesting outside city hall this wednesday. Anything Grows will be holding monthly events with the goal of raising awareness of the coal port situation and generating community support and direct action. 

Meeting and Public Assembly Wednesday, May 25 at City Hall 210 Lottie St. Bellingham 4:30ish

The public hearing is held in the chambers. From 6:00 PM until the meeting starts there will be a staff person who can answer your questions.  The meeting starts at 7 p.m. We need as many speakers who are fully informed to speak in opposition to the Shoreline Master Plan


The meeting room at city hall is small and can be easily packed. The crowd will probably overflow. We can let our strength be seen. City Hall is behind the City Library. There is an open area between the library and in front of city hall. It can accommodate a lot of people. A street separates the Whatcom County Administration from City Hall. Sidewalks go around the block where the library is, the city hall block and the Whatcom County Building. If people come early [4:30ish] before the workers and elected officials of both the City and Whatcom County go home, they can see our strength.

If you would like to speak at the meeting, when you come in you can sign up to speak. You will be given a form.  Please state on this form the City and County you live in. If you sign up to speak and then change your mind it is O.K. The moderator will then pass on to the next speaker.You do not have to speak you can present your letter. The letter will be a record.  This is something that Bellingham will decide but it affects the entire state.  I had a long conversation with Mr. Barry Wenger, Senior Environmental Planner, Washington State Dept. of Ecology concerning problems that we can address.

1. Access to the water: There will be an access problem if the trains come through. This problem will be decided on by the City of Bellingham although it affects the entire state. People in Bellingham can not get to the water if many trains with mile and one half length cars come through. People in the county will have a greater concern because they will have more difficulty getting through Bellingham to get to the water if the trains come through. The people in other cities and counties in Washington will have even greater problems than the Bellingham and County people in getting to the water because they will have a difficult in getting to Bellingham.  Mr. Wenger said that these are problems that the City will need to address. 

2.  Water: This matter is being heard by the Ecology Department. All questions about water problems need to be addressed. This means the water itself and all the things that live in the water.  This will also mean all things that move in the water.

The shoreline is the topic. Everything that is of concern about our shoreline needs to be addressed.

Mr. Wenger was very courteous and polite. His telephone number is 360-715-5200; email bwen461@ecy.wa.gov.   If you email him he will put you on his mailing list. Comments can also be emailed to him. Please feel free to call Pearl Follett at 360-671-0434 or email info@safeguardthesouthfork.org if you have further questions. 

We hope to see you before the meeting and after.  At last we can be heard!