By Steve Guntli
The Lummi Nation has provided the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) with more data, and is requesting quick action to deny the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT).
In a letter to the USACE on March 5, Lummi chairman Tim Ballew II requested a swift denial on the GPT project.
“As far as we’re concerned, there is no reason for the Corps to delay a decision on the Cherry Point terminal,” Ballew wrote. “The information we’ve provided clearly shows that there is no way to mitigate impact to this sacred area. The terminal would permanently impede access to our treaty protected fishing areas. We look forward to a swift response from the Corps on this issue.”
The Lummi Nation requested the USACE reject the GPT permit in early January. In February, the USACE requested the Lummi provide more information to better inform its decision. The Lummi Nation submitted the requested information, including harvesting processes and impacts for shellfish.
SSA Marine, the developer behind the GPT project, has reached out to the Lummi Nation several times to negotiate. So far, the Lummi have been adamant in their opposition to the terminal, which would ship more than 48 million tons of coal from Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota to Asia each year. SSA states the impact on tribal fishing grounds would be minimal, and the economic benefits of the facility would extend to the Lummi Nation.
Patricia Graesser, a spokesperson for the USACE, said USACE will continue to look into the Lummi Nation’s request, but could not provide a timeline of its decision.
While the USACE considers the Lummi Nation’s request, other interested parties near the source of the coal have voiced their support for the GPT. Earlier this month, the Wyoming legislature approved a bill that would allow the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority (WIA) to issue $1 billion in bonds to help finance construction of a coal port if the permits are approved.
The text of the bill didn’t identify the GPT specifically, but WIA executive director Loyd Drain said the office was considering a large terminal currently undergoing environmental review in Washington. This could refer to the GPT or the Millennium Bulk Terminal site in Longview.
The Crow Tribe of Montana has also been a vocal supporter of the terminal. Earlier this month, Crow chairman Darrin Old Coyote drafted a letter to the USACE encouraging negotiation between SSA Marine and the Lummi. The Crow owns approximately 9 billion tons of coal reserves, according to “Indian Country Today.” The tribe’s economic stability is dependent on coal mining.
“Obtaining the full value from our coal resources depends on having the transportation infrastructure in place for us to access both national and international markets,” Old Coyote wrote. “Obtaining full value for these resources is the key to the Crow Tribe’s future.”