By Oliver Lazenby
Pacific International Terminals, the applicant for the proposed Gateway Pacific coal export terminal at Cherry Point, withdrew its application last week for what would have been the country’s largest coal export terminal.
Last May, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ruled that the project would impact the Lummi Nation’s treaty-protected fishing rights, and denied a needed permit. Now, with its application withdrawn, Pacific International Terminals is no longer pursuing a project of that scale.
In a letter to Whatcom County officials, the company said it is considering alternatives including challenges to the corps decision or modifying the proposal to reduce its environmental impacts.
“In the meantime, we do not wish to continue processing an environmental impact statement for the applications listed above, since elements of the project may change,” said the letter, signed by Skip Sahlin, vice president of project development for SSA Marine, a subsidiary to Pacific International Terminals.
The company’s withdrawal clears up any questions of what effect the president’s pick for interior secretary, Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke, would have on the proposal.
Zinke supports the Cherry Point coal terminal. He blamed the Corps’ permit rejection last May on “political pressure and environmental special interests.”