Well, we can all stop worrying about a coal terminal. All that is proposed for Cherry Point is a “terrestrial geotechnical evaluation.” Whew.
How do I know? Because Whatcom County has posted the “State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Checklist,” showing the scope of the impacts proposed for review by the County and State before they issue (retroactive) permits for the illegal work that has already been done on the site.
The Checklist is limited to the geotechnical analysis, which means that the applicant only wants the agencies to evaluate the impacts of that small part of the project. And, if the project proponent were planning to continue with the rest of the project, this would be called “piecemealing.”
Piecemeal environmental review is the oldest trick in the book. One small permit won’t have major impacts – let’s just look at those impacts! Then the next small permit won’t have much impact either – let’s just look at the impacts of that permit!
Over time, though, OOPS. You wind up with, say, a coal terminal, and the public and the agencies have never looked at the impacts of the project as a whole.
With the wisdom of Aristototle, the State Department of Ecology has correctly observed:
The applicant is attempting to separate the 9.1 acres of the geotechnical investigation portion of the greater “Gateway Pacific Terminal” project from the actual 1,090-acre terminal project itself.
Both phases of this project are combined under a common plan of development and must be included in full in their NOI [Notice of Intent] as well as in their public notices.. .
In short, because the SEPA has not yet started (apparently they will be doing an EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] for the terminal), ECY [Ecology] will not be able to consider an NOI complete nor issue CSWGP [Construction Stormwater General Permit] coverage for the project at this time. We will not separate the two projects (common plan).
That’s right. The applicant has lawyers who must know that’s right. The geotechnical investigation is the first stage of a single big project, and SEPA requires environmental review of the “common plan.”
Therefore, there must not be any plans to build a coal terminal any more, because surely the project proponent wouldn’t be rewarded for illegal activity on the site by being allowed to cheat on the environmental review.