The Seattle Times, December 20, 2012
By Lance Dickie/Times editorial columnist
Washington residents across the state want the broadest review of environmental, health and safety impacts from coal trains and coal ports.
From the boisterous meeting at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, it was clear residents from far and wide want the broadest possible review of plans for a coal port near Bellingham.
The intimate gathering of thousands last week was the final of seven sessions — in Bellingham, Friday Harbor, Mount Vernon, Ferndale, Spokane, Vancouver and Seattle — to gauge how narrow or expansive the environmental-impact assessment should be.
Ostensibly the focus is the Gateway Pacific Terminal, but the overwhelming call is not for a project-specific inquiry that looks at a single activity, but for a big-picture study of regional impacts and the cumulative effects of multiple coal terminals proposed for Washington and Oregon.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state Department of Ecology and Whatcom County are the so-called co-leads for the process. Their determination of the breadth of the review is a warm-up for plans for Longview and elsewhere.
Getting the template right is important.