The City Council supports efforts to improve rail safety and reduce rail impacts to Bellingham residents. These include activities to influence state and federal regulation to reduce dangers from train cars carrying volatile crude oil, and to ensure that expansion of rail traffic does not impede waterfront redevelopment. When funding permits, the City is completing projects that improve rail crossing safety, and will, in the future, allow the creation of federally-designated Quiet Zones to reduce noise impacts on residents. The City Council passed a resolution supporting local Quiet Zones.
The Council supported efforts to protect residents from a proposed Coal terminal at Cherry Point which would have resulted in trains carrying 54 million metric tons of coal per year moving through Bellingham. That project – recently withdrawn — would have created substantial noise impacts, impeded access to the waterfront, and contributed to the expansion of the market for this greenhouse gas-generating fuel.
The Council has written or endorsed a series of letters on rail safety and the proposed coal terminal:
- April 20, 2015 — Letter to Senator Cantwell regarding oil by rail safety
- July 21, 2014 — Letter to Whatcom County Planning Director Ryan regarding rail safety associated with the Gateway Pacific Terminal project
- February 3, 2014 — Resolution supporting increased safety standards for rail tank cars
- January 17, 2013 — Letter to GPT/Custer Spur EIS regarding Bellingham’s second set of scoping comments on Gateway Pacific Terminal
- December 12, 2012 — Letter to GPT/Custer Spur EIS regarding Bellingham’s scoping comments on Gateway Pacific Terminal
- July 27, 2012 — Resolution requesting that certain potential on- and off-site impacts associated with the GPT be analyzed as part of the SEPA and NEPA processes
- May 24, 2011 — Letter to Whatcom County Planning & Development Services and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding scope of EIS for proposed GPT
- May 5, 2012 — Letter to Tyler Schroeder, SEPA Official, regarding Notice of Application for Permit