Blaine community development director will speak at Cherry Point terminal lecture

Published on Thu, Sep 15, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Blaine community development director Michael Jones will be one of two speakers at a lecture about the state environmental review process the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal must undergo in order to be approved by the Whatcom County Council.

The Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry, which has expressed public support for the approval of the $600 million shipping terminal, is hosting the lecture as the first in a a series of four whose goal is "to keep our community informed about the Gateway Pacific Terminal project," according to a press release. The first lecture will start at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 20, at the Bellingham Golf and Country Club and will cost non-chamber members $25 to attend and members $20 to attend.

Jones said he will be giving the talk as citizen knowledgeable on the State  Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), not in his official capacity as the Blaine community development director. He said the Bellingham chamber simply asked him to speak, and he agreed. His talk will focus on the SEPA process in general and not the specific requirements for the Gateway Pacific Terminal.

"It's not my intent to express the city [of Blaine's] opinions or my opinions on the project," Jones said.

Port of Bellingham Executive Director Charlie Sheldon will join Jones in speaking on the environmental review process for the terminal.

From the press release for the lecture series:

"With the negative and derisive tone the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal has engendered in our community dialogue, the Chamber felt that it was important to refocus the discussion on a number of fact-based issues surrounding the Gateway Pacific Terminal project, proposed by SSA Marine.

We are, therefore, dedicating the first half of this years' Chamber Speaker Series to these non-partisan discussions. Our goal is to help you better understand the proposal."

The other three lectures will be held on October 18, November 15 and March 20. The respective topics for these lectures will be the bulk commodities market, the potential impacts of the increased rail traffic the terminal will bring, and facts about the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. Click here for a more detailed list of future lecture topics and speakers.

The project, which is slated to handle millions of tons of commodities such as coal and grain if it is approved, has come under intense county and state scrutiny recently due to unpermitted geotechincal work at the proposed site for the terminal in the Cherry Point industrial area. Seattle-based shipping terminal company SSA Marine authorized the clearing of trees and the grading of approximately 9 acres of dirt roads at the site without the proper county, state and federal permits.

Click here to see the Bellingham Chamber press release. Click  here to see my most recent story on the Gateway Pacific Terminal.


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