The Gateway project is undergoing a thorough environmental impact statement (EIS) process, conducted jointly by federal, state and local agencies. The co-lead agencies are Whatcom County, Washington State Department of Ecology and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The project will have to comply with at least 15 federal, state and local environmental laws and regulations. The review is expected to take about two years.
The first opportunity for public input is during the “scoping” process, which concluded January 22, 2013. During the 120 day scoping period, the public was able to submit comments by mail, online or in person at the seven scoping meetings. After scoping, the co-lead agencies will consider comments and decide on what should be included in the draft of the EIS. Further public input will be sought on the draft EIS. The final EIS will be used to inform the co-lead agencies and other agencies on permitting decisions. For more information about the EIS process, go to the co-lead agencies’ EIS Website.
The permitting process will be coordinated through a collaborative, multi-agency permitting team (MAP Team) administered by the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Assistance (ORA). The MAP Team approach allows for focused efforts that lead to an efficiency of project review through close collaboration and coordinated communication and builds synergy between agencies and the project proponents.
The purpose of the MAP Team is to:
- Address environmental regulatory and permit issues specific to the Gateway project
- Provide early project review including pre-application meetings
- Provide interagency coordinated review
- Provide regulatory and technical project comments according to a predictable schedule
- Be a consistent review body for the project at all jurisdictional levels
Whatcom County and the Washington State Department of Ecology are co-leaders of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process on the project. The SEPA process for this project was initiated with a 1992 determination of significance made by Whatcom County. The MAP Team, which includes Whatcom County, is tasked with continuing the environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), SEPA, and federal, state, and local permitting needs within the MAP Team process.
Since the proposed project will require an individual Army Corps permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, and a Rivers and Harbors Act Section 10 permit for construction in navigable waters and impacts to waters of the U.S., the Corps has been the lead federal agency for the terminal project since 1992 and has continued responsibility for NEPA compliance.
While Whatcom County has already issued a Shoreline Substantial Development permit, the county, as one of the SEPA lead agencies, retains responsibility for continuing documentation review and oversight.
USACE has been leading government-to-government consultation, as directed by Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), for the project since 2009. Project description letters and vicinity maps have been sent to affected Native American tribes, including the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe. Tribal consultations on usual and accustomed fishing areas around Cherry Point, as well as cultural resources in the uplands, are ongoing for the Gateway Pacific Terminal.