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.)

Writing Letters: The "Inland" Route?

Due to technicalities wherein county government might find itself in a quasi-judicial status sooner than we think, we need concerned citizens to share their opinions with two media outlets immediately: the Whatcom County Council and Executive Pete Kremen. Once they have a permit for the Gateway Pacific Terminal [GPT] in hand they have a quasi-judicial status and cannot receive any input from the public. This means we have to get letters in right away. Tell everyone you know to write! write! write! now! While they are still allowed to listen!

Our affiliate, RESources has a useful fact sheet available. Additionally, SGSF is in the process of developing a similar list of county impacts, so please email and send us any information you regard as worthwhile.

Don’t be bashful about writing to Bellingham Mayor, Dan Pike, who has done his best to tacitly support the coal terminal while simultaneously steering the coal train and its unnecessary impacts onto Skagit and Foothills folk! His so called “inland route” conjures up some desolate void out in the middle of nowhere … “away from population centers.” In actuality, his comment foists these mile and a half long monstrosities on the many population centers of Mt. Vernon, Burlington, Sedro Woolley, Acme, Deming, Nooksack, Lynden, Sumas, and Blaine. Thank you NOT Mr. Mayor. 

Truth be told, intricate interstate commerce legislation allows railroads, such as the Burlington Northern Santa Fe [BNSF], tremendous leeway to do what is in their most profitable interest and if GPT gets permitted the train will eventually be looping around the entire county.

Choose your targets friends and neighbors: GPT or BNSF. Which reminds me! There is an online petition available urging elected officials to support No Coal to China for Northwest Ports.

Gateway Pacific Terminal JARPA

We are currently coordinating with other regional groups to develop action items at the local, state, and federal level and will be forwarding these materials to you soon.

In the meantime, one action item is to keep the conversation alive locally and to become an information resource on the true costs of the proposed terminal, which Bob and Jeff laid out for us at Thursday’s forum. We will start drafting a fact sheet later this week.

Another action item in in response to SafeGuard the South Fork and the Coal Train forum making the front page of the Bellingham Herald yesterday. The comment section is available online for us to communicate public opinion on the issue.

There will be a planning meeting this Thursday, May 5 at 7:30. We’ll be sending out a message to the listserv once we determine a location. If you were not able to provide your email to us at the Coal Train Forum this past week and are interested in assisting with developing action items, conducting research, organizing future events, developing the web site, additional information resources, etc. drop us an email at info@safeguardthesouthfork.org and we will add you to the list.

In the meantime, for your reading pleasure here is the Gateway Pacific Terminal Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Application [JARPA] Permit Application to Washington State.