The Cole Train: Loads of BSPermalink +
Sun, Dec 04, 2011, 5:53 pm // Tip Johnson
At the request of the Edgemoor Neighborhood Association, Craig Cole (Mr. Coal) appeared at Fairhaven Middle School last Thursday to represent the interests of his employer, SSA Marine, proponents of the Gateway Pacific Coal Port.
First off, I want to congratulate Craig on his extremely professional presentation. With a few minor complaints, he amply demonstrated why he gets the big bucks from the bad guys. He mostly kept his cool, was quite well organized, and did his best to seem sincere. Nobody really bought it.
Mr. Coal's approach was simple and effective. He led off with his local credentials: Attended Fairhaven Middle School - like his dad and kids, lives on South Hill, his family has been here for a hundred years, and he has a long history of working to make the community a better place. Has he lived here all his life? Not yet! While with the County, he worked to help define what could be approved at Cherry Point. Now, he is working to get it approved.
Then he laid out his oversimplified bonehead assertions, capably shifting what I often refer to as "the indignity of explanation" to the public. This project, he said, will comply with all environmental regulations, create jobs and pump desperately needed cash into the economy. What's not to like? Matter settled! Now it's your job to refute it.
"Mr. Coal" brought a number of handouts, including an open letter from the Central Labor Council. This piece attacks the notions that coal dust and diesel emissions from this project will be bad for us, stating that it takes "certain levels of exposure" to diesel exhaust and "extremely heavy and lengthy exposure" to coal dust "before adverse health effects occur." It assures the public that this is unlikely because the project will meet "modern high environmental standards." That's a relief! The letter singles out Dr. Frank James, former Public Health Official and member of Whatcom Docs. In the closing section, it characterizes Dr. James as illogical, irrational, disrespectful, unfair, inaccurate, probably a bad diagnostician, and only concerned because he lives near the railroad tracks.
In fairness to Mr. Coal, it wasn't his letter. This might excuse the irony of his rather quick insistence that folks not get personal with him in their remarks during the Q&A period. However, he did bring Chris Johnson of Central Labor with him, who did sign the letter. Chris' sole additional contribution was to respond to a question on Triple Bottom Line by admitting he didn't even know what it was, that his bottom line is more money and better jobs. Folks laughed politely. I find it astounding that Central Labor is so eager to get in bed with coal, considering that industry's record with worker safety and union contracts.
Another handout defined the issues with the coal port. In short, According To The Document (ATTD), there aren't any! ATTD, it will bring in jobs, lots of them! These numbers keep jumping around, but Mr. Coal assures us it will be a needed improvement in any case. ATTD, trains are so much more efficient than trucks that we don't really need to worry about air quality. Never mnd that no one moves coal by truck and there will probably be a least ten times as many locomotives belching their way across town. ATTD, rail traffic will not affect waterfront redevelopment. The Port Director and Commission President say so! Operations, including vessel traffic will not, ATTD, affect marine life. These matters have been extensively studied, will probably get studied some more and government regulators will be conducting ongoing inspections. In fact, ATTD, not a single noisome effect will be detectable beyond the project boundary. Whew!
On the subject of traffic delays, proponents reference a port study that claims the 18 or so train trips per day will cause waits of only about four minutes each. That, ATTD, is just over an hour wait per day in exchange for over 1,000 jobs. Wow! Just how impatient are folks? They can't be that selfish! Of course, when you factor in many folks waiting for the trains and time for the traffic jams to resolve, and add it up over the many trains - day in, day out - well, that's a whole 'nother cost to the community, and another example of why no one is buying this bull. For instance, if 100 people have to wait four minutes for each train across town and it takes four additional minutes for traffic to clear, that's eight minutes a day times 100 people times 18 trains times 365 days, well, that's over 3,600 days a year of sitting around in idling cars and traffic jams. I guess it just depends on your perspective! It probably means little to the trains. They don't have to wait, and the coal port will appreciate their punctuality.
Besides an informational broadsheet featuring lots of green ink and reiterating these comforting assertions, the last document found on the seats as we arrived was an article from Crosscut.com. I'm not really sure why they brought this one. Maybe they thought no one would read beyond the bold quotation. The handout featured a bold snippet asserting that in terms of economics and climate change, exporting coal to China is a "non-issue." The rest of the article, however, admits that "total coal burn" is a factor in the "fate of the climate." It describes developing coal exports as "a moral hazard zone" that is missing the opportunity to examine "this economic crossroads" and suggests we need to "replace the fossil fuel economy." It points out that air quality is a legitimate concern distinct from climate. It also describes the market for U.S. coal as "marginal…responding to short-term disruptions or spikes in demand." In fact the pullout quote is attributed to Robert Morse, director of research on coal and carbon markets at Stanford University. Mr. Morse is also one of the authors of a December 2010 report entitled, "Remaking the World's Largest Coal Market: The Quest to Develop Large Coal-Power Bases in China." This document suggests China will need U.S. coal for probably only about ten years due to a regulatory disconnect between energy and coal producers there, and the need to reinvest in their coal technology.
This very document earlier had me thinking the likelihood of this coal port getting built was slim. Maybe it is a ruse for Longview. Can they really pay off $700m of investment in ten years? However, after listening to the bull, when I saw the perspective rendering of the proposed facility, I started taking it seriously. The rendering shows a modest pile of coal and a smaller area for potash and grain storage. The dock shows only two ships in queue. But there is a lot more room there. What I sensed was a piecemeal approach to a much larger scale operation. I got worried. I wondered if any potash or grain would ever be shipped. I started thinking about all those trees they "accidentally" knocked down during their misguided geotechnical preparations. When I asked Craig about them, he hesitated just long enough to make me wonder before saying they are still lying there, knocked down. Inexplicably, not nearly enough downed trees appear in the photos County Councilmember Carl Weimer documented in his now famous dog walk in the woods. Where did they go? Craig says they are still there. That, unlike most assertions for this project, is an empirically determinable fact. Let's find out.
The point here is that if the trees were removed for any merchantable purpose, the property is indisputably qualified for the six year moratorium on development they have apparently just weaseled out of. A six years wait would likely kill this project according to Stanford's predictions. The regulators Mr. Coal asks us to trust gave the project a pass on their illegal forest practice and threw away the best "silver bullet" we had. I have been trying hard to stay out of this coal-tar pit, but I advise those already wading into the quagmire to ascertain the fate of those trees and challenge the determination that let the project off that hook.
My impression was that folks left feeling unconvinced and chagrined at Mr. Coal's integrity. Indeed, pretty much everyone has liked him and wants to like him. It's just harder now. It was too much for Edgemoor neighbors to hear that SSA is a local, award-winning steward of resources. These are the same folks that got their start stevedoring with a long-term sweetheart lease from family friends at the Port of Bellingham. They brought us proposals for overdevelopment of Chuckanut Ridge and Governor's Point. Now they want to pop the cherry out at the point. It's all cut from the same cloth and it is a disappointment to see Craig wearing it.
OK, this is already too long and I didn't even want to write it. John twisted my arm. Many people spoke and offered very good observations and concerns. I invite you to take a minute and comment on those that struck you as most important.
Related Links:-> For all the happy news
Mon, Dec 09, 2013, 12:24 pm // Guest writerBarbara Perry writes about the closed nature of the Bellingham School Board on the future of the Larrabee School.
Sat, Dec 07, 2013, 8:23 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein the direct, indirect, hidden and lost opportunity costs make this a waterfront boondoggle of billions
3 comments; last on Dec 11, 2013
Sat, Dec 07, 2013, 12:33 pm // Wendy HarrisLocal activist calls on Bellingham City Council to table the unpopular waterfront plans and engage in meaningful public process
2 comments; last on Dec 08, 2013
Fri, Dec 06, 2013, 11:03 pm // Wendy HarrisThe county will be required to consider water quality and water quantity when planning rural growth.
3 comments; last on Dec 10, 2013
Thu, Dec 05, 2013, 11:58 am // John ServaisThe Political Junkie has posted a 3 minute video showing Bellingham City Council members explaining their idiocy for all of us to watch.
2 comments; last on Dec 06, 2013
Thu, Dec 05, 2013, 5:00 am // Dick ConoboyThe post "riot" conversation is terribly lacking in several areas. We must expand the discussion or risk learning little from the experience.
1 comments; last on Dec 07, 2013
Wed, Dec 04, 2013, 10:53 am // John ServaisBellingham City Council and Port of Bellingham finalize the waterfront plan. In his weekly Gristle, Tim Johnson blasts the corrupt public process.
4 comments; last on Dec 05, 2013
Sat, Nov 30, 2013, 8:11 pm // Wendy HarrisThe waterfront plan allows a development bonus for payments made to the Lake Whatcom land acquisition fund
1 comments; last on Dec 01, 2013
Fri, Nov 29, 2013, 9:43 pm // Wendy HarrisA number of important issues need to be resolved before waterfront planning is complete, but the city council and port commission are ready to act.
2 comments; last on Nov 30, 2013
Fri, Nov 22, 2013, 9:01 pm // Wendy HarrisIf the port can not construct the airport safely, should it be entrusted with dangerous waterfront cleanup work?
Wed, Nov 20, 2013, 5:03 am // Dick ConoboyThe advice coming from Walmart and McDonald's to its low paid employees becomes more and more bizarre and inane.
Tue, Nov 19, 2013, 5:35 am // Dick ConoboyAmbling's motion to the hearing examiner for reconsideration was definitively rejected. The developer has not met the deadline for an appeal to the Superior Court
Mon, Nov 18, 2013, 2:18 pm // Guest writerIn which we find the hidden core of the waterfront plan is rotten through and through
7 comments; last on Nov 21, 2013
Mon, Nov 18, 2013, 10:59 am // Riley SweeneyThe county takes two big steps forward on the new jail, while still missing the point
Thu, Nov 14, 2013, 1:39 am // Tip JohnsonDear Mr. President, There's a sucker born every minute, and two to take him.
7 comments; last on Nov 21, 2013
Wed, Nov 13, 2013, 3:16 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city adminstration has been providing misleading/ incorrect information to the city council to avoid waterfront plan revisions.
1 comments; last on Nov 18, 2013
Tue, Nov 12, 2013, 10:21 am // Riley SweeneyRiley crunches the numbers on Renata and McAuley's races to find answers
2 comments; last on Nov 13, 2013
Tue, Nov 12, 2013, 5:16 am // Dick ConoboyPuget Neighborhood will likely have in the immediate future 1,300 new rental units that will be marketed primarily to the student population.
Sat, Nov 09, 2013, 9:47 pm // Wendy HarrisThe COB administration continues in its refusal to analyze waterfront wildlife issues, even though this is a prerequisite step in protecting wildlife from the impacts of development
3 comments; last on Nov 10, 2013
Tue, Nov 05, 2013, 8:21 pm // John ServaisWith lots of outside county money flowing in to our local races, this election is weird. But real - and we county residents have spoken.
11 comments; last on Nov 09, 2013
Mon, Nov 04, 2013, 9:55 am // Dick ConoboyThe call of the dollar speaks more loudly to health insurance companies than does the voice and well-being of the consumer, even here in Washington.
8 comments; last on Nov 06, 2013
Thu, Oct 31, 2013, 10:19 am // Dick ConoboyFour bedroom dorm rooms have been nixed by the hearing examiner. University Ridge may be in trouble as a cash cow for Ambling Development of Georgia
3 comments; last on Nov 04, 2013
Mon, Oct 28, 2013, 10:19 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein we discover why we exert our rights - and grab some more petitions before it's too late
3 comments; last on Nov 06, 2013
Mon, Oct 28, 2013, 12:00 am // Dick ConoboyIndependent voters are for independent thinkers on the city council. Vote for Burr and Petree.
Sat, Oct 26, 2013, 7:36 pm // John ServaisBeach reconstruction is done at Boulevard Park on the Bellingham waterfront. Paths along shore are again open - and it looks good.
6 comments; last on Nov 01, 2013
Sun, Oct 20, 2013, 7:07 pm // John ServaisKen Bell has my vote over Mike McAuley for port commissioner. And Renata Kowalczyk has it over Dan Robbins.
8 comments; last on Oct 30, 2013
Tue, Oct 15, 2013, 3:16 pm // Dick ConoboyThe development of University Ridge will replicate the student ghetto that fueled the riot on 12 October.
6 comments; last on Oct 25, 2013
Tue, Oct 15, 2013, 2:46 pm // Wendy HarrisRequesting waterfront handouts for the Overwater Walkway while proclaiming autonomy from further public review is unjustifiable.
2 comments; last on Oct 16, 2013
Tue, Oct 08, 2013, 2:22 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city staff considers the overwater walkway a done deal before official approval or resolution of treaty right conflicts
4 comments; last on Oct 16, 2013
Wed, Oct 02, 2013, 10:19 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city administration asserts that there is no gap in waterplant plant and animal analysis
Wed, Oct 02, 2013, 10:01 pm // Wendy HarrisBellingham is holding an open house to introduce the public to its habitat restoration master plan, despite being at a preliminary draft stage
3 comments; last on Oct 04, 2013
Wed, Oct 02, 2013, 5:40 am // Riley SweeneyRiley uncovers how the Coal Industry is funding conservative candidates in Whatcom County
11 comments; last on Oct 03, 2013
Sat, Sep 28, 2013, 5:05 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city and port have not addressed wildlife impacts from waterfront development and this should be done before a waterfront plan is enacted.
Sat, Sep 28, 2013, 2:20 pm // John ServaisAs the right wing radicals seek to shut down our national government this week, we need to push back with common sense.
8 comments; last on Oct 01, 2013
Fri, Sep 20, 2013, 7:09 am // Dick ConoboyHearing held on 11 September. Comment period extended 10 days. Effects on home owners already manifest.
8 comments; last on Sep 22, 2013
Thu, Sep 19, 2013, 6:08 am // Riley SweeneyRiley examines who is donating to which candidates
Mon, Sep 09, 2013, 12:07 am // Wendy HarrisThe staff will be explaining the public's concerns, but the public is not allowed to testify.
Fri, Sep 06, 2013, 2:52 pm // Wendy HarrisElected officials continue to rely on inaccurate and misleading reports by the city and port staff regarding waterfront development.
Wed, Sep 04, 2013, 8:37 am // John ServaisAn attempt at linking to one or more writers who can help us make sense of going to war with Syria. An alternative to Kerry-Obama.
Wed, Sep 04, 2013, 12:36 am // John ServaisContacting Rick Larsen and Susan Delbene is actually a viable citizen exercise just now. Tell them to vote NO on bombing Syria.
1 comments; last on Sep 04, 2013
Sat, Aug 31, 2013, 2:10 pm // John ServaisSaturday afternoon - and a rally is taking place in downtown Bellingham against bombing Syria. Riley Sweeny and his Political Junkie site cover it.
Fri, Aug 30, 2013, 11:08 am // John ServaisGee, can we make it any clearer? Publisher opinion. So sad that we have to write this to Obama - who got our vote in 2008 because he…
4 comments; last on Aug 31, 2013
Mon, Aug 26, 2013, 4:00 am // Dick ConoboyThe University Ridge process works only to the benefit of the developers. The public is offered tight deadlines and insufficient information.
1 comments; last on Sep 21, 2013
Mon, Aug 19, 2013, 7:08 am // Riley SweeneyRiley whole-heartedly urges Doug Ericksen to run for Congress in 2014
2 comments; last on Aug 19, 2013
Fri, Aug 16, 2013, 11:11 am // Wendy HarrisWhen the Bay stinks so bad that the public is calling 911, it is time to revisit waterfront redevelopment priorities
12 comments; last on Aug 19, 2013
Fri, Aug 16, 2013, 4:00 am // Dick ConoboyThe University Ridge dormitory development approval process is broken. The City Council should act.
1 comments; last on Aug 17, 2013
Wed, Aug 14, 2013, 11:24 am // John ServaisThe Feds gag an Email service owner - so he cannot even tell us why he is gagged.
2 comments; last on Aug 15, 2013
Tue, Aug 13, 2013, 11:31 pm // Wendy HarrisThe City of Bellingham memorandum of agreement with Lynden does not make sense. What is going on?
4 comments; last on Sep 11, 2013
Tue, Aug 13, 2013, 9:26 am // Riley SweeneyAfter attending the public hearing on the marijuana ban, Riley breaks down the good, the bad and the ugly
4 comments; last on Aug 20, 2013
Fri, Aug 09, 2013, 8:42 pm // Wendy HarrisA conceptual agreement between COB and Lynden exchanges water for a new, but unneeded, water withdrawal site on the Middle Nooksack.
3 comments; last on Aug 10, 2013
Thu, Aug 08, 2013, 12:05 am // John ServaisLiberal talking head Lawrence O'Donnell went into a bullying rant against a well qualified guest - and showed he's just like O'Reilly.
2 comments; last on Aug 08, 2013
Tue, Jul 30, 2013, 11:59 pm // John ServaisAd rates are in the norm of Internet rates and reach a well educated local audience.
Sun, Jul 28, 2013, 2:44 pm // Wendy HarrisRedevelopment of 14 acres along Lake Whatcom is contrary to the efforts to restore water quality.
1 comments; last on Jul 29, 2013
Tue, Jul 23, 2013, 10:22 am // Dick ConoboyCandidates for the Bellingham School Board need to let us know where they stand on charter schools.
3 comments; last on Aug 05, 2013
Sat, Jul 20, 2013, 3:53 pm // Wendy HarrisProposed rezone of farm land to allow meat packinghouses will undermine the long term viability of our farm economy.
1 comments; last on Jul 23, 2013
Mon, Jul 15, 2013, 8:08 am // Guest writerThe proposed development ought not proceed without a more extensive geological assessment and a thorough evaluation of the impacts on the Lincoln Creek watershed.
Sun, Jul 14, 2013, 10:25 am // John ServaisThe explosion of hate and racist rhetoric is the saddest aspect of the verdict. The evidence was complicated and the verdict difficult to make.
2 comments; last on Jul 16, 2013
Fri, Jul 12, 2013, 8:29 am // John ServaisRiley Sweeney has a short but important expose over at the Political Junkie today.
1 comments; last on Jul 12, 2013
Mon, Jul 08, 2013, 4:11 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city would like to amend our city shoreline regulations to allow greater waterfront shoreline development.
1 comments; last on Jul 11, 2013
Mon, Jul 08, 2013, 12:30 pm // Guest writerAmbling University Development has substantially underestimated the role of the car in the lives of its eventual student renters and their visitors.
2 comments; last on Jul 09, 2013
New LinksJulia Ioffe/New Republic
Current InterestCommunity Wise Bellingham
Friends of Whatcom
Lummi Island Quarry
League of Women Voters
Paul Krugman - economics
Local Blogs & NewsBellingham Herald
Bham Herald Politics Blog
Bham Politics & Economics
Friends of Whatcom
Get Whatcom Planning
League of Women Voters
Western Front - WWU
Local CausesBellingham Police Activity
Chuckanut Community Forest
Citizens of Bellingham
City Club of Bellingham
Community Wise Bellingham
Cordata & Meridian
Facebook Port Reform
Futurewise - Whatcom
Lummi Island Quarry
N. Cascades Audubon
NW Holocaust Center
Reduce Jet Noise
Salish Sea Org.
Save the Granary Building
WA Conservation Voters
Port of Bellingham
US - The White House
WA State Access
WA State Elections
WA State Legislature
Weather & ClimateCliff Mass Weather Blog
Two day forecast
Watts Up With That? - climate
Edge of Sports
Famous Internet Skiers
Good LinksAl-Jazeera online
Foreign Policy in Focus
Innocence Project, The
Intrnational Herald Tribune
Julia Ioffe/New Republic
Middle East Times
New American Century
Paul Krugman - economics
Personal bio info
Portland Indy Media
Project Vote Smart
Talking Points Memo
War and Piece
NwCitizen 1995 - 2007Early Northwest Citizen
Internet At Its BestTED
Quiet, Offline or DeadBellingham Register
N. Sound Conservancy
No Leaky Buckets
Protect Bellingham Parks
The American Telegraph
The Crisis Papers