Afternoon Jolt

No winner or loser today, just a jolt of drama as the public comment period on the proposed Cherry Point coal terminal in Bellingham closes (today's the last day for public comment): 

Twelve state representatives, all Democrats, including five from Seattle (and two from Bellingham), sent a letter today to the lead agencies in charge of plans for the terminal requesting a full statewide review of any economic and environmental impacts the proposed Cherry Point coal terminal in Bellingham might have as part of the environmental review of the project.

BNSF Railroad would transport 18-mile-and-a-half-long coal trains a day from Wyoming to Cherry Point—going through Seattle—where the coal would be loaded on freighters and sent to China.

“Due to the gravity of the proposed project and the widespread nature of the potential impacts, we recommend that the agencies broaden the scope of the review process to include the impacts felt by cities and counties across Washington,” the legislators wrote. “Only through a thorough and comprehensive review process can stakeholders understand the full scope of the [Gateway Pacific Terminal] project and the impacts it will have.

“Everyone, rhetorically, has called for a comprehensive and cumulative analysis,” state Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Seattle) tells PubliCola. “We’re making that actionable by defining it.”

Specifically, the letter asks Whatcom Planning and Development Services to look at (among other things) the potential for “externalities” such as traffic backups at railroad crossings, how the new train traffic would impact freight and passenger rail, what it would mean for the state’s ferry system and spending on transportation infrastructure, impacts on employment levels both around the terminal and elsewhere in the state, how much the terminal would cost the public, and impacts on greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.

“Everyone, rhetorically, has called for a comprehensive and cumulative analysis,” state Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Seattle) tells PubliCola. “We’re making that actionable by defining it.” 

In addition to  Rep. Carlyle, the Seattle legislators who signed on were: Reps. Joe Fiztgiboon (D-34); Gael Tarleton (D-36) (major traffic choke points from the train route are in Carlyle and Tarleton's 36th); Gerry Pollet (D-46); and freshman Jessyn Farrell.