Two separate Environmental Impact Statements will be conducted for the proposed bulk commodities terminal near Bellingham, the state Department of Ecology announced Monday.
Ecology, Whatcom County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had previously agreed to produce one EIS studying a wide variety of impacts the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal could have, including rail traffic, human health impacts and gas emissions.
The agencies now say two studies will be conducted; Whatcom County and Ecology will issue a report following the State Environmental Policy Act, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will follow the National Environmental Policy Act.
The scope of the studies announced in July have not been changed.
The three agencies will continue to collaborate to identify issues and share information.
A draft EIS will be ready for public review in about two years, Ecology and Whatcom County said.
The proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal could export 54 million metric tons of bulk commodoties, including 48 million metric tons of coal. Up to 18 trains per day could make their way through Skagit County on their way to the terminal.
Mount Vernon and Burlington previously requested Ecology consider possible effects of train traffic on local emergency response.
Ecology has not announced which cities along the rail line will be evaluated for rail impacts.