The terminal is proposed for the Cherry Point industrial area in Whatcom County.

SEATTLE-Speaking to a crowd of supporters at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, prominent leaders of King County and state labor groups and the Association of Washington Business recently added their voices in support of the proposed $665 million bulk commodity export terminal. The terminal is proposed for the Cherry Point industrial area in Whatcom County.

The Gateway Pacific Terminal will be “highly efficient” and will expand America’s exports of dry bulk commodities, according to a prepared statement. Proposed by Seattle-based SSA Marine, the terminal will meet the state’s “stringent environmental standards while providing a major boost to the region’s economy.”

A prepared statement says the terminal will create 4,400 jobs at full capacity during the construction phase, and 1,250 permanent jobs and $140 million a year in economic benefits from operations.

According to the project’s website, the project will have national impact. “Because Asian markets are growing so strongly, they present a prime opportunity for Northwest exporters, but the United States has limited capacity to export dry bulk goods from the West Coast competitively. The Gateway Pacific Terminal, and its link to the BNSF rail system, will help fill that void, providing farmers and resource managers in the Northwest and across the upper Midwest with an efficient new export portal,” according to the website.

Calling for a balanced and prompt environmental review, all speakers said that the project should be held to Washington State’s high environmental standards but emphasized that the state as a whole needs to cooperate in the interest of more jobs and increased trade.

David Freiboth, executive secretary of M.L. King County Labor Council and a VP of the Washington State Labor Council, noted that the state labor council has strongly backed the Gateway project. “The state labor council has for two consecutive years strongly endorsed the Gateway project. We call on our public officials to keep the scope of review focused on site-specific issues and to support the creation of these thousands of family-wage jobs.”

Larry Brown, Aerospace Machinists, IAM Local 751, legislative director, said at the event that “Washington is a trade state and whenever the state expands trade across the Pacific – especially export trade – it benefits all Washingtonians – including Boeing workers.”

Brandon Housekeeper of the Association of Washington Business called on the permitting agencies to avoid giving in to delay tactics in the review process. “We can have good jobs and environmental safeguards. What we cannot do is allow opponents of this project to change the rules and create a precedent that could cripple our state’s economy,” he said.

Lee Newgent, Seattle Building & Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary, said, “The construction industry around our state, with few exceptions, is still on its knees. A major project like the Gateway terminal takes up a lot of slack and helps union workers all over the region. We know these projects can be done right and we call on the agencies to get on with the review.”