Thursday, November 1, 2012

Coal: EIS Scoping Comment No.24

Proposed BNSF Bellingham Siding & Idling Track

There have been reliable reports that BNSF is actively proceeding with plans to build a new siding -perhaps 1.5 miles long- within Bellingham City Limits, ostensibly to help accommodate anticipated additional Coal Train traffic for the proposed GPT export facility. 

Yet, nowhere within the Application submitted by GPT & BNSF is this particular plan even mentioned, even though it would create additional severe impacts to City facilities and infrastructure. 

I request the MAP Team investigate this report to determine its accuracy. If BNSF is planning such an idea within the anticipated GPT EIS time frame, it most definitely should be included as part of the GPT EIS Scope and fully evaluated for its additional impacts, possible mitigation and all related costs.

Since GPT and BNSF -as inseparable Applicants- have consistently tried to limit the EIS Scope to only those footprints specific for the Terminal & Custer Spur expansion, the omission of this new, long and disruptive Bellingham Siding has the appearance of a deliberate attempt to evade comprehensive public scrutiny by the evaluation team.

If this new siding and idling track is built, it would permanently block Boulevard Park to vehicles & parking, affect Waterfront Businesses -both existing & planned- and increase train diesel exhaust in a populated urban area. 
It would also impose a significant, unfair financial burden on the City and its taxpayers and citizens if public health, safety and welfare problems are to be even partially rectified.

All of these impacts are simply unacceptable to me and to our community, even if some form of limited mitigation funding were offered.
I suggest a No Action Alternative may be the only reasonable solution to this situation.