After receiving thousands of petition signatures urging him to oppose construction of coal export terminals in Washington state, Public Lands Commissioner Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark has issued a brief statement.
“I have heard from literally tens of thousands of people on the issue of coal exports and appreciate input from all sides of this issue. It is very important for interested parties to participate in all stages of this public review process. Any new terminal to export coal will go through a rigorous environmental review process by the appropriate permitting agencies.
Although the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is not a permitting agency, we will participate and comment on any potential adverse environmental impacts of the proposal.
Any decision I make will be made after DNR is presented with a comprehensive proposal which addresses all aspects of the project, including information developed through environmental review. We are proceeding carefully and considering all relevant factors as we continue to work closely with local, state and federal regulatory agencies.”
The Sierra Club has been sending out emails urging people to send Goldmark a message at this online site.
The Climate Solutions group also presented DNR with about 40,000 signatures opposing coal exports.
When and if the Gateway Pacific Terminal coal export project at Cherry Point gets approval from Whatcom County, the Department of Ecology and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the spotlight would shift to Goldmark and the Department of Natural Resources. DNR has legal control over most of the state’s “aquatic lands,” meaning lands under the water, and those who use those “lands” must lease them from DNR.
Once SSA Marine has permits in hand for Gateway Pacific, the firm would have to obtain an aquatic lands lease from DNR before it can build.
The area where the coal pier would be built is surrounded by DNR’s Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve. The management plan for that reserve, issued in late 2010, envisions construction of some kind of new pier on SSA’s property off Gulf Road. SSA officials expressed satisfaction with that management plan when it was completed. But the plan also notes the potential harm that such a pier could do to the struggling herring population, among other harmful impacts.