U.S. CONGRESS — Montana Senator Steve Daines and Representative Ryan Zinke today issued the following statement after Pacific International Terminals, Inc. announced that they are voluntarily requesting the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) to pause the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) infrastructure project.
“The federal government is clearly slow walking the approval process on the Gateway Pacfiic Terminal as part of its effort to destroy coal jobs,” Daines stated. “The Gateway Pacific Terminal would provide access to international markets for Montana coal and agriculture products – including Crow coal – creating much needed good-paying union and tribal jobs. I appreciate the commitment the Crow Tribe’s partners have had to this project and know their commitment will continue. I will continue fighting against this bureaucratic assault on Montanans’ livelihoods.”
“Thanks to political pressure and the environmental special interests, the Gateway Pacific Terminal is suffering the same bureaucratic death as the Keystone XL Pipeline,” Zinke stated. “The Crow need and deserve for this project to go through; and frankly, there’s no reason it shouldn’t have been approved in a timely, transparent, and fair manner. While I’m disappointed to see the project further delayed, I support the Crow and their partners doing what will best ensure fair treatment and lead to completion of the project.”
“The Crow Tribe is very disappointed that the Gateway Pacific Terminal has voluntarily opted to pause the EIS review of the Project,” said Crow Chairman Darrin Old Coyote. “We have been very frustrated with the Army Corps of Engineer’s process for considering the Usual and Accustomed treaty rights outside of the normal EIS review. This Project is critical for the Crow Tribe to utilize our treaty protected natural resource of coal to allow the Tribe to provide for our tribal members and create critical jobs in the future. We remain supportive of this Project and hope that it will one day become a reality.”
The Gateway Pacific Terminal is a proposed deep-water port in Washington State, just north of Seattle, that would create a port for Montana exporters to access markets in the Pacific Rim via a rail line.
The stakeholders paused the EIS process for a minimum of 45 days after increased speculation that the ACE was going to issue a de minimis determination prior to completion of the draft EIS, which is a completely unprecedented path. A de minimis determination will halt the project based on the Lummi tribe’s assertion that the project will impact their usual and accustomed fishing rights.
The Crow Tribe has the option to secure 5 percent ownership in the Terminal from Cloud Peak Energy. Cloud Peak Energy will own 49 percent while SSA Marine will own 51 percent of the company’s shares.
The project is expected to create more than 4,000 jobs and has a diverse coalition of support from groups including the Crow Nation, local labor unions, business organizations, the agriculture industry, and local governments. Dozens of letters from various groups were submitted in favor of the project and can be found here.