Environmental Review
Shell Anacortes Refinery proposed crude by rail unloading facility   [ en español ]

aerial view of March Point in Skagit county

The Shell Puget Sound Refinery (Shell PSR) at March Point, near Anacortes, proposes an expansion project to receive rail deliveries of crude oil. This project would involve building of an unloading facility and a rail spur from an existing BNSF Railway line. The expansion would allow for delivery of crude from six trains a week.

This project is currently under environmental review. The Department of Ecology (Ecology) and Skagit County (county) are jointly overseeing the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project. Together, Ecology and the county are “co-leads,” working together to complete the EIS.

Visit ShellRailEIS.com, the project website, for more detailed information about the EIS and proposed facility.

About environmental review

Washington’s State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) helps state and local agencies identify possible environmental impacts that could result from development projects or government decisions. An EIS is an information document. It is neither a decision nor a permit. It helps provide information to the public and to agencies that must decide on issuing and setting conditions for permits.

SEPA requires an EIS when a project is likely to have adverse impacts on the environment. An EIS provides a full review of impacts the project will have on the environment. It includes a full evaluation of alternatives to the proposal and measures that could reduce or eliminate impacts to the environment.

Next Steps

  • The draft EIS will be available for public review and comment in the fall of 2016.
  • Co-leads will consider all public comments and will produce a final EIS.
  • Agencies can use the EIS when making decisions about project permitting, in addition to information submitted with each permit’s application.

Public Involvement

  • The co-leads gathered public comments from September 21 to November 5, 2015 from the community and stakeholders about what should be included in the scope of the EIS. This included three public meetings.
  • After the comment period the co-leads issued a report summarizing the comments received.
  • Next opportunity for public involvement: In Fall 2016, the draft EIS will be available for review and comment. The co-leads will hold public hearings during the comment period.

Project History 

Fall 2015The co-leads selected HDR Engineering Inc. to conduct the EIS process and prepare a draft EIS for public review and comment. Work begins on the draft EIS.
Sept 21 – Nov 5, 201545-day comment period for project scoping. During this comment period, the co-leads accepted public comments about what should be included in the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement. The co-leads received more than 35,000 comments.
Sept. 21, 2015Skagit County and the Department of Ecology released a Determination of Significance for the Shell Anacortes Rail Unloading Facility.
July 2015The co-leads hired HDR Engineering, Inc. as a third party team to assist them in preparing a draft EIS for public review and comment.
May 18, 2015Skagit County requested that Ecology participate as a SEPA co-lead, and Ecology formally agreed on June 8, 2015.
Feb. 23, 2015The Hearing Examiner granted the appeal and ordered Skagit County to complete an EIS.
Jan. 28–30, 2015The Skagit County Hearing Examiner held an open record administrative appeal.
Sept. 11, 2014Earthjustice appealed the modified MDNS on behalf of RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Friends of the San Juans, ForestEthics, Washington Environmental Council, Friends of the Earth, and Evergreen Islands.
Aug. 13, 2014The County received more than 400 comments on the MDNS decision, which led Skagit County to request additional information from Shell PSR.

After review of the additional information, Skagit County issued a modified MDNS that included additional conditions, supporting information and another comment period.
April 24, 2014After conducting a SEPA review, Skagit County determined that the project did not have a probable significant adverse impact to the environment if certain mitigation measures were followed. This is called a mitigated determination of nonsignificance (MDNS).
Jan. 9, 2014Skagit County held a public comment period for the proposed project.
Dec. 18, 2013Shell PSR submitted permit applications to Skagit County for the proposed project.

Permits needed for this proposed project

After completion of the EIS, Shell will need to obtain permits and authorizations, including:

  • Shoreline Substantial Development Permit and Variance from Skagit County, with Ecology review of the Variance
  • Forest Practice Conversion, Skagit County
  • Floodplain Development Permit, Skagit County
  • Grading Permit, Skagit County
  • Commercial Building Permit, Skagit County
  • Hydraulic Project Approval, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Coastal Zone Management Act Consistency Determination, Ecology
  • Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification, Ecology
  • Clean Water Act Section 404 permit, US Army Corps of Engineers
  • Coverage under water quality Construction Stormwater General Permit, Ecology

Project Documents

Additional project documents, including the environmental checklist, can be reviewed on the Skagit County website and the co-leads’ project website.

For more information about SEPA reviews, please see Ecology’s Citizens Guide to SEPA Review and Commenting.

map showing site location as Whatcom County, WA

Facility Site ID: #7

March Point,
Skagit County

Region: Northwest Regional Office (NWRO)

Meg Bommarito
Regional Planner
Northwest Regional Office
Department of Ecology

> Official website

The co-leads are developing a draft Environmental Impact Statement. It will be available for public review and comment in fall 2017.


Sept. 21, 2015 - Agencies seek input before reviewing Shell refinery rail proposal

June 9, 2015 - Ecology, Skagit County to co-lead state environmental review of proposed Shell Anacortes rail terminal


Skagit County Planning and Development Services

Shell Puget Sound Refinery facility information

State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)

Moving oil through Washington