CWB’s Citizen Guide to the GPT EIS Process
The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal project began with scoping, an important step when the public is invited to comment on what should be covered in the EIS document. The scoping period closed on January 22, 2013. Thousands of comments were collected at in-person scoping meetings, online, and in writing. After considering comments, the Co-Lead Agencies will decide what should be included in the EIS. The Co-Lead Agencies will summarize comments received during the scoping process in a publically available scoping report.
Once a draft EIS is published, the public will be invited to review and comment on the document and participate in public meetings.
Read CWB’s Submitted EIS Comments - CLICK HERE
Read and Search Comment Database - CLICK HERE
Suggestions on how to submit a comment.
Three local issues to consider in your comments.
CWB’s list of issues to include in the Scope of the EIS.
What is this public comment opportunity – otherwise known as the EIS scoping period?
Why is this public comment period important?
How does this fit into the larger coal port review and permitting process?
How to submit a comment
- You don’t need to be a technical expert to comment of the GPT project. Write about what you believe needs to be studied and why.
- Written comments regarding the scope of the GPT EIS can be sent via mail or email (addresses below) or filed online here until January 21, 2013.
- You can view comments residents have already submitted here.
- The EIS agencies offer suggestions on writing a comment here.
Letters can address the need to include a potential impact in environmental analysis, or suggestions on the range of alternatives, as well as potential mitigation actions. For more information, visit these websites:
Official EIS page created by the lead agencies
League of Women Voters – GPT page
Comment Writing Workshops
GPT Official Project Page
Protect Whatcom http://protectwhatcom.org/eis-scoping/ (see Writing a Comment)
YouTube video on EIS process with WWU professor Jean Melious
Written comments concerning the project should be submitted to:
Mr. Randel Perry, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District
Care of: GPT/BNSF Custer Spur EIS Co-Lead Agencies
1100 112th Avenue Northeast, Suite 400
Bellevue, Washington 98004.
Email comments to:
CLICK HERE to see the three questions all Whatcom County residents should consider.
CWB’s list of issues to include in the Scope of the EIS.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Washington State Department of Ecology and Whatcom County (the Co-Lead Agencies) are preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) documenting the effects of the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) project in the Cherry Point industrial area in Whatcom County.
The EIS analyses will include a review of human health effects related to the construction and operation of the Gateway Pacific Terminal facilities and modifications to the BNSF Custer Spur. The EIS analyses will also provide an assessment of whether measures can be taken to avoid or minimize those effects.
Scoping is an important step during which the public is invited to comment on:
- Reasonable range of alternatives
- Potentially affected resources and extent of analyses
- Measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate effects of the proposals
Comments from local residents are critical! If you have concerns about the potential impact of the coal port on your family or community, please submit a comment. Once the comment period ends, you will not be able to comment again until the draft EIS statement is released.
The following detailed information on scoping comes from the Notice of Intent To Prepare a Joint Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Gateway Pacific Terminals Bulk Dry Goods Shipping Facility and the Custer Spur Rail Expansion Projects, released on Sept. 21, 2012.
The scoping period will continue for 120 days after publication of this Notice of Intent and will close on January 21, 2013. During the scoping period, the Corps invites Federal agencies, State and local governments, Native American Tribes, and the public to participate in the scoping process either by providing written comments or by attending the public scoping meetings scheduled at the time and location indicated below. Written comments will be considered in the preparation of the Draft EIS. Comments postmarked or received by email after the specified date will be considered to the extent feasible.
The purpose of scoping is to assist the Corps in defining issues, public concerns, and alternatives and the depth to which they will be evaluated in the EIS. The Corps has prepared project information documents to familiarize agencies, Tribes, the public, and interested organizations with the proposed projects and potential environmental issues. Copies of the documents will be available at the public meeting and at the Web site www.eisgatewaypacificwa.govor can be requested by contacting the Corps, Seattle District, as described above. Corps’ representatives will answer scope-related questions and accept comments at public scoping meetings.
a. Public scoping meetings will be held to present an overview of the GPT and Custer Spur projects and to afford all parties an opportunity to provide comments regarding the range of actions, alternatives, and potential impacts. The public scoping meetings will be held as follows:
- At Squalicum High School, 3773 East McLeod Road, Bellingham, Washington 98226-7728 on Saturday, October 27, 2012, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- At Friday Harbor High School, 45 Blair Avenue, Friday Harbor, Washington 98250 on Saturday, November 3, 2012, from 12 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- At McIntyre Hall, 2501 East College Way, Mount Vernon, Washington 98273 on Monday, November 5, 2012, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- At North Seattle Community College, 9600 College Way North, Seattle, Washington 98103 on Tuesday, November 13, 2012, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- At Ferndale Events Center, 5715 Barrett Road, Ferndale, Washington 98248 on Thursday, November 29, 2012, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- At Spokane County Fairgrounds, 404 North Havana Street, Spokane Valley, Washington 99202 on Tuesday, December 4, 2012, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- At Clark College, Graiser Student Center, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver, Washington 98663 on Wednesday, December 12, 2012, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
During the scoping period, a continuous “on-line scoping meeting” will be hosted on the EIS Web site at www.eisgatewaypacificwa.gov.
b. Potentially significant issues to be analyzed in the EIS include but are not limited to project-specific and cumulative effects on navigation (e.g., vessel traffic and navigational safety); marine aquatic habitats, including State-designated aquatic reserves; marine aquatic species, including Endangered Species Act listed species and Washington State species of concern; Tribal treaty rights; wetland and riparian habitat and wildlife; railroad and vehicle traffic; cultural, historic, and archeological resources; air and water quality; noise; recreation; land use; and aesthetics.
c. The Corps will serve as the lead agency for compliance with NEPA, and Whatcom County Planning and Development Services (the County) and the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) will serve as the lead agencies for compliance with SEPA. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Coast Guard will serve as cooperating agencies under NEPA. The Corps will consult with the Washington State Historic Preservation Officer and applicable Tribes to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service to comply with the Endangered Species Act; the National Marine Fisheries Service to comply with the Essential Fish Habitat provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act; and applicable Tribes to comply with treaty provisions on fishing rights.
d. Development of the draft EIS will begin after the close of the scoping period. The draft EIS is currently scheduled to be available for public review and comment in January 2014.
e. A 120-day public review period will be provided for all interested parties, individuals, and agencies to review and comment on the draft EIS. All interested parties are encouraged to respond to this notice and provide a current address if they wish to be notified when the draft EIS is issued.
f. All comments received will become part of the administrative record and are subject to public release, as appropriate, in their entirety, including any personally identifiable information such as names, phone numbers, and addresses if included in the comment.
This period is critical in the GPT coal port permitting process as the “scope” of the environmental impact study will be determined. The public may weigh in on what issues and impacts should be studied. The final EIS study will be used by the permitting agencies to determine if the coal port application is approved or denied.
The only additional public comment period will be once the draft EIS is complete, likely 18 to 24 months from now.