Department of Ecology and Skagit County News Release - September 21, 2015

Agencies seek input before reviewing Shell refinery rail proposal

ANACORTES – The public is invited to comment on the scope of an environmental impact statement (EIS) that Skagit County and the Washington Department of Ecology plan to jointly prepare for a proposed facility to receive rail deliveries of crude oil at the Shell Puget Sound Refinery.

Comments on the EIS scoping will be accepted at public meetings, via the web, and by email and standard mail today through Nov. 5. The 45-day comment period is more than double the usual 21 days prescribed in state EIS regulations.

Shell proposes to build and operate a facility that would unload crude oil from up to six trains per week, with up to 102 tank cars in each train. The project would include construction of a rail spur from an existing nearby BNSF Railway line.

The county and Ecology are conducting the EIS process together as “co-leads” for the proposed rail facility, under the State Environmental Policy Act.

First step in EIS process

An EIS describes a proposed project’s impacts, but does not address whether the proposal should receive permits. Permitting decisions occur after the EIS is complete.

Before writing an EIS, the co-leads conduct the scoping process to help decide the topics to be analyzed in the EIS. They seek input from other agencies, tribes, local governments and the public on how the EIS should address:

After the comment period the co-leads will decide what should be included in the EIS. They expect to issue a scoping report this winter and begin work on a draft EIS, which may take approximately nine months to prepare. The lead agencies will seek public comment on the draft EIS, and then produce a final EIS.

Get information and make comments

People can view information about the proposed project and the EIS process at the official EIS website, shellraileis.com. Comments are welcome at any time during the comment period via:

Public meetings

The county and Ecology also will host three scoping meetings, which will include information on the proposed project, staff available to answer questions, and opportunities to provide oral or written comments. There will be no formal presentation, and people may arrive and leave as they choose during the meeting hours.

Meetings are set for these dates and locations:

The three meetings will follow the same schedule: People interested in speaking at the verbal comment sessions will enter random drawings for one of about 65 two-minute speaking slots at each event. The drawings will occur at the start of each hour during the 2½-hour sessions.

The shellraileis.com website includes an “online open house” that presents the same information that will be displayed at the three scoping meetings.

Contact:

Larry Altose, communications, 425-649-7009, @EcySeattle
Alice Kelly, Ecology regional planner, 425-649-7128
Dale Pernula, Skagit County Planning Director, 360-416-1328