Mile-long coal trains have rumbled from mines to power plants and ports across America for decades, unnoticed by a public that uses electricity without thinking much about where it comes from. But the proposed Gateway Pacific terminal near Bellingham has opened up a larger debate about U.S. competitiveness in a changing global economy and to what extent it should set an example of environmental stewardship for other countries to follow.
Bellingham Mayor Pike opposes the Gateway Pacific terminal, but he may not be able to do much to stop it. The Washington State Department of Ecology and Whatcom County will decide the project’s fate in an extensive environmental review. Pike has lobbied aggressively to have input during the process to make sure it addresses residents’ concerns.