Whatcom County is entering the final stage of a long public process to improve outdated rules for permitting fossil fuel industries at Cherry Point. After a year of review, the Whatcom Planning Commission is holding one final online public hearing on the land-use code amendments restricting fossil fuel industrial permitting in the Cherry Point zone on Thursday, August 13th, at 6:00pm. Join us via Zoom at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 11th to prepare for this critical hearing.
Final Planning Commission online public hearing
This is the most important hearing since this process began four years ago — a key opportunity for community stakeholders to weigh in before the County Council begins their final review this Fall. You can also watch it live on the Whatcom County YouTube page.
Background: How Whatcom can protect public health, safety, and the Salish Sea
In 2017 — one year after the would-be largest North American coal export terminal at Cherry Point was soundly defeated — the Whatcom County Council passed forward-thinking policies seeking to limit the health and safety impacts on local residents and our environment that would undoubtedly come with increasing hazardous shipments of crude oil, tar sands, gas and coal through Cherry Point’s existing fossil fuel terminals.
To prevent risky expansion projects from slipping through the cracks while working on these code amendments, the County has maintained a moratorium temporarily barring certain permits for transshipment facilities that would increase pass-through shipments of unrefined fossil fuels (i.e. crude oil from a train onto a tanker without any processing) for the last four years. This Fall, the County Council could finally pass an ordinance that will reform development rules to:
- Prohibit new fossil fuel transshipment facilities, coal plants, and piers
- Conditionally permit expansions of existing refineries and terminals
- Update environmental review standards for new projects at existing industries.
RE Sources, ally organizations and local communities have been a key part in the public process of making those policies into real changes to the county’s legal code — rules governing how we allow, deny or condition development proposed at Whatcom’s existing oil refineries and shipping terminals.