Several Washington community leaders sent a letter Friday to Skagit County Commissioner Ken Dahlstedt and Gov. Jay Inslee requesting 120-day public comment periods for the proposed Shell Puget Sound Refinery rail unloading facility in Anacortes and the proposed Grays Harbor crude oil terminals.
The letter, which was also sent to Hoquiam City Manager Brian Shay and state Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon, urged officials to allow the longer comment periods for the draft environmental impact statements of the projects in order to give community groups more time to gather information.
The draft environmental impact statements have yet to be completed.
Among those signing the letter were Kelly Fox of the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters, Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart and Carolyn Gastellum of Protect Skagit.
The letter stated, “We are prepared to read the thousands of pages of documents, discuss them with our members and prepare informed testimony, but we need more time.”
Dahlstedt said county officials have read the letter and have received about 1,200 emails on the subject.
Comment periods for draft environmental impact statements are usually 21 days, Dahlstedt said.
“Ecology and the county have been looking at having a comment period about 42 days long, so double the norm,” he said. “The project has been public for more than six months, so it’s not like it popped up out of the blue and people haven’t had time to gather their materials.”
The letter said local leaders need the participation of community groups to make informed decisions.
The Shell rail unloading facility would allow the refinery to accept 100-car trains carrying about 60,000 barrels of crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken formation.
When Shell Puget Sound Refinery announced plans for the facility in 2013, community members and local, state and federal officials raised safety and environmental concerns about transporting Bakken crude oil by rail to Anacortes.
— Reporter Shannen Kuest, 360-416-2145, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Twitter: @Shannen_SVH, Facebook.com/ShannenReporter