Huxley College Graduate and Undergraduate Publications

College Affiliation

Huxley College of the Environment

Department or Program Affiliation

Department of Environmental Studies


The purpose of this environmental impact assessment (EIA) is to determine the potential environmental effects of increasing the amount of coal trains passing through Whatcom County if the Gateway Pacific Terminal site were to be approved at the Cherry Point, Whatcom County location (Figure 1.2a). This document addresses the environmental impacts train traffic associated with of the Gateway Pacific Terminal's proposed construction project at Cherry Point in Whatcom County, which would increase the amount of coal train traffic passing through Whatcom County by about 18 additional trains each day. The environmental impact assessment includes detailed sections on the existing conditions of the natural and built environments with the impacts each action will have on the respective categories. Mitigation measures are defined for any impact determined to be significant. The no action alternative impacts refer to no construction or related aspects of the proposed project. Currently there are only six trains on average that travel through Whatcom County each day on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) rail line. The proposed action would require coal trains traveling from Powder River Basin, Wyoming, to the west coast and terminating at Cherry Point. The most significant adverse effects could be caused during transport of the coal in Whatcom County. The main environmental concerns associated with implementation of the Gateway Pacific site include the impacts from the dispersal of coal dust blowing off of the uncovered coal rail cars. The three options targeted by the document are the proposed action, the alternative action, and no action. The alternative action includes rerouting of the train transport to the east of Whatcom County where there is an existing BNSF rail line. The primary difference between the two options is the difference in the population density affected. The impacts from the transport of coal has similar effects to the natural environment in the proposed action and the alternative action. The emphasis of the alternative action is to minimize the impacts on the built environment.

Document Type

Environmental Impact Assessment

Subject – LCSH (for OAI)

Coal--Transportation--Environmental aspects--Washington (State)--Whatcom County; Coal--Transportation--Environmental aspects--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Railroads--Freight--Environmental aspects--Washington (State)--Whatcom County; Railroads--Freight--Environmental aspects--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Air--Pollution--Environmental aspects--Washington (State)--Whatcom County; Air--Pollution--Environmental aspects--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Environmental impact analysis--Washington (State)--Whatcom County; Environmental impact analysis--Washington (State)--Bellingham

Geographic Coverage

Whatcom County (Wash.); Bellingham (Wash.)


Environmental impact statement


Western Washington University


Winter 2012

First Advisor

Bodensteiner, Leo R.,

OCLC Number



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Environmental Studies