Manifest Clandestine-y

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Mon, Jul 07, 2014, 5:04 am  //  Guest writer

Cover of brochure for Washington elected officials visit to Wyoming. Two Bellingham coal port proponents also attended.

Guest writer Sandy Robson submitted this article, which includes some fine research.  

When Wyoming’s governor, Matt Mead, visited Longview, Washington, on June 3 to advocate for the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals at Longview (MBTL), there was plenty of news coverage in both states before and after his visit. 

However, very few people heard about the May 14 journey to Gillette, Wyoming by business and labor leaders as well as elected officials from Washington state. Their two-day trip included tours of Cloud Peak Energy’s Cordero Rojo Mine, Basin Electric’s Dry Fork Power Plant, Wyoming Senator John Hine’s (R-Gillette) ranch, Gillette College Educational Center, and Campbell County Recreational Center. In fact, a tour brochure outlined every step of their trip, and listed all the Washington and Wyoming participants.

To make sure they were well fed with both food and pro-coal information, they were treated to dinners featuring speakers from SSA Marine, BNSF, MBTL, and Cloud Peak Energy — all of which have an urgent need for proposed coal terminals to be approved and built. Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) in Whatcom County, WA, and MBTL in Longview, WA, would handle, store, and export 48 million tons and 44 million tons of coal respectively.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead and Gillette Mayor John Opseth invited the Washington delegation. The pro-coal trip was courtesy of the state of Wyoming. The elected officials from Washington state were: three county commissioners: Mike Karnofski (Cowlitz County), Rick Miller (Franklin County), and Jean Ryckman (Pasco County); two mayors: Ron Onslow (Ridgefield) and Sean Guard (Washougal); one State Representative: Paul Harris (R-District 17, Vancouver); and four city council members: Ken Botero (Longview), Bill Turlay (Vancouver), Al Yenney (Pasco), and Ray Minor (Connell).

In addition to these state and community leaders, Bellinghamsters John Huntley and Brad Owens, co-chairs of the Northwest Jobs Alliance (NWJA), were also part of this delegation. For readers who don’t already know, NWJA is a marketing arm for the proposed GPT, consisting solely of a facebook page created in May 2011. It lists as its website address, and the phone number listed on the facebook page does not work. 

Brad Owens is a business representative for the local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)191. John Huntley has owned Bellingham’s Mills Electric since 2007. In GPT’s May 29 promotional post on the IBEW 191 website, Huntley says of the trip, “When it comes to coal dust, at least in Wyoming it is a myth.”  He continues, “We toured the surface mines by bus to see the operations first-hand and did not see any coal dust. We visited a coal-fired power plant where you could eat off of the floors because they were so clean and there were no visible emissions coming from the stacks.”

While Huntley claims he saw no visible emissions from the stacks at the Dry Fork Power Plant, according to an October 7, 2013 Casper Star-Tribune article, “Even the 2-year-old Dry Fork Station north of Gillette emits about 2,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour. Power plant owner Basin Electric touts the plant as one of the cleanest coal-fired power plants in the U.S.” The article also reported that most coal-fired plants in Wyoming, including the Dry Fork plant which has only been in operation for two years, emit carbon dioxide at a much higher rate than the EPA's proposed federal limit (at the time of the article). 

Huntley also said, “One of the most impressive things that I watched is the land being reclaimed after mining was over.”

Yet, an independent organization of scientists and journalists researching and reporting on changing climate and its impact, disagrees. A January 19, article states, “Coal companies tout the success of reclamation. BLM regulations require performance bonds and say mined areas must be restored to ‘approximate original contours’ with water and habitat in healthy condition. 

But the Western Organization of Resource Councils, a nonprofit fighting coal development, analyzed BLM reports and found otherwise: ‘Coal mining has disturbed more than 162,000 acres of land in Wyoming,’ the group wrote, ‘but only 4 percent of this land has gained final reclamation status’ with full restoration and legal release from the bond.” 

The article also reported that Wyoming rancher L.J. Turner, whose family has owned their 10,000-acre ranch since 1918, says streams on his ranch now dry up in the summer except for spring holes. He reports fish, beaver, mink, and muskrats (aquatic and semi-aquatic animals) are mostly gone. 

“From Antelope Creek north to Gillette, all the aquifers are being cut by mines. Water upstream is draining away.” Turner further explained that the aquifer is about 90-100 feet deep, so when sliced open by blasting and power shovels, water collects in the bottom of the mines. Some of it is pumped out, some used for wetting mine roads or other mining uses. But for the rancher, Turner says, “It’s just gone.”

Turner’s wife, Karen, says her biggest concern is water. “There’s not enough of it now, and it’s dirty. We drink bottled water because our water smells like hydrogen sulfide, and it didn’t used to.”

On his return from Wyoming, Longview City Council member Ken Botero compiled a report about the tour to share with fellow council members. In it, Botero speaks highly of the facilities and services Campbell County’s leaders have provided their communities, which he believes provide for a positive economy for their communities. There is no mention of any adverse impacts of the mining and/or transportation of Wyoming’s coal on those communities: impacts to water supply and quality; air quality; agricultural land; and endangered species in the area. There are also adverse impacts from a large increase in coal train traffic and the blasting operations at coal-mines. 

Meanwhile, one has to wonder why there has been no press coverage of this tour by the Washington state delegation. The only mention so far is the May 29 GPT promotional bulletin on the IBEW 191 website. News coverage of the Wyoming trip would have revealed the sales campaign of the coal industry and companies behind the proposed Washington coal terminals. Our local press has a responsibility to alert potentially imperiled communities to the war being waged on us by the coal industry's money-motivated representatives.

John Huntley - second from left, and Brad Owens - far right, with four Wyoming officials on the shore at Cherry Point on June 10 of this year.

Dena Jensen  //  Fri, Jul 11, 2014, 12:17 pm

Just a heads-up for those who may not have clicked the tour brochure link in the second paragraph above to view its contents:  not only are the names of those invited from Washington state and the places they were to visit listed, there is also a “Contact List” of Wyoming representatives that anyone opposed to the menace of unclean coal terminals in our state, the mass destruction of our natural landscapes and the biosphere that mining produces, and dirty energy in general can make very good use of to freely express their opinions.

Sandy Robson  //  Sun, Jul 13, 2014, 7:50 pm

I posted my above article today on Whatcom Watch Facebook and someone posted a comment there saying that it looked like Wyoming managed to find the least influential elected officials in our state for a free trip to the strip mines in Wyoming. I thought that might be worth addressing here under my article, as it’s possible other people reading my article may share that thinking.

It actually seems as though the invites to WA politicians were done pretty strategically by the state of Wyoming (aka Big Coal).

Hopefully this information below may shed some light as to why elected officials from the counties of Franklin County, Pasco County, Cowlitz County (MBTL would be located in Cowlitz County), and the cities of Ridgefield, Connell, Washougal, Vancouver, and Longview (MBTL would be located in Longview) were invited on this Wyoming pro-coal tour.

It looks like the WA politicians who went on the WY pro-coal tour were not only from cities and counties along the railways on which the coal trains would travel, but more specifically from those communities likely to encounter some serious vehicle traffic delays due to at-grade rail crossings, with the huge increase in coal trains that would accompany the proposed coal terminals in WA.

If you look at the cities and counties of which the WA politicians are from, all of those are mentioned in the Sightline article series (6 part) entitled “How Oil and Coal Trains Will Block Traffic.” The Sightline article series analyzed various public at-grade rail crossings along the rail route to proposed coal terminals/ports and oil refineries/terminals, and showed how coal train (and oil train) traffic will close streets and disrupt vehicle traffic for hours daily.

Here are links to a few of the Sightline articles that should help people see the connections:

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Manifest Clandestine-y

Mon, Jul 07, 2014, 5:04 am  //  Guest writer

Guest writer Sandy Robson breaks the story of officials from Washington treated to a coal-promoting junket to Wyoming.

2 comments; last on Jul 13, 2014

Herald and Weekly Withhold the News

Wed, Jun 11, 2014, 11:39 am  //  John Servais

Wyoming Senators and coal honchos were in Whatcom County June 10 - to hold a news conference with select reporters.

7 comments; last on Jun 20, 2014

Village Books

In historic Fairhaven. Take Exit 250 from I-5.

The Road to Perdition

Sun, Jun 01, 2014, 12:39 am  //  Guest writer

A Venn diagram where coal, the Endangered Species Act, Republicans, and Wyoming’s Board of Education collide.

2 comments; last on Jun 02, 2014

Feint, Calumny, Solidarity

Wed, May 28, 2014, 3:15 pm  //  Guest writer

A perspective by guest writer Ellen Murphy reflects on the Whatcom Watch and the threatened law suit by Craig Cole.

22 comments; last on Jun 01, 2014

Montana & Wyoming to WA: Permit Coal Export Terminals… Or Else

Thu, May 22, 2014, 12:10 am  //  Guest writer

Wyoming is ready to try and legally force us to limit our environmental scoping for the Cherry Point coal terminal

4 comments; last on Jun 17, 2014

Bellingham’s 2013 Water Quality Report: The Facts But Not the Truth

Tue, May 13, 2014, 5:04 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Bellingham's annual water quality report indicates that city hall's propoganda machine is going strong

1 comments; last on May 14, 2014

Stay the Frack Out of Our Forearc

Sun, May 11, 2014, 2:20 pm  //  Terry Wechsler

Part 1: Introduction to the Bellingham Basin’s Potential for Fracking, Earthquakes, and Earthquakes Due to Fracking

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An Imminent Threat

Fri, May 09, 2014, 6:10 am  //  Terry Wechsler

Why Washington must step in and assume lead agency status in Skagit County for the Shell crude by rail proposal.

6 comments; last on Jun 21, 2014

“Friends and Neighbors”?

Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 1:59 pm  //  Terry Wechsler

A closer look at Whatcom County's industrial "stewards of the environment."

3 comments; last on Jun 25, 2014

Action Alert for Tonight: Waterfront Wildlife and Habitat Threatened

Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 11:43 am  //  Wendy Harris

The public needs to support city council and request that a waterfront habitat assessment include terrestrial species and habitat connectivity.


Water, Water Everywhere, but ...

Sat, Apr 19, 2014, 2:57 pm  //  Terry Wechsler

or How Not to Plan for Future Generations' Water Needs

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Killer Industrial Jobs or Long-term Job Killers?

Sun, Apr 06, 2014, 12:52 pm  //  Terry Wechsler

Why commenting on the EIS for Comp Plan revisions for Cherry Point means demanding an EIS in the first place.

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County Considers Purchasing Toxic Property

Wed, Mar 19, 2014, 10:32 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley digs into the county's plan to buy the county morgue

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Fukushima Radiation Found In Canada

Fri, Mar 14, 2014, 10:47 am  //  John Servais

Fukushima radiation has been found 20 miles from Whatcom County farmland along the Fraser River in British Columbia.

1 comments; last on Mar 17, 2014

County Hires GPT Permit Lead as Senior Planner

Mon, Mar 10, 2014, 10:51 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley digs into an unusual hiring decision at the County Planning Dept

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Lecture on County Water Issues Draws Crowd

Sat, Dec 07, 2013, 12:03 am  //  Wendy Harris

The county will be required to consider water quality and water quantity when planning rural growth.

3 comments; last on Dec 10, 2013

Treaty Rights and Public Rights Ignored In Overwater Walkway

Tue, Oct 08, 2013, 3:22 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The 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

Greenways Levy Money Used for AstroTurf

Sun, Jun 30, 2013, 11:28 am  //  John Servais

Bellingham City Council ready to approve $500,000 of trails money for resurfacing plastic grass on Civic Field.

15 comments; last on Jul 02, 2013

Sen. Doug Ericksen Co-opts rather than Cooperate

Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 7:29 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley Sweeney examines Sen. Ericksen's legislative methods


Our Water - War or Pieces?

Fri, May 24, 2013, 1:18 am  //  Guest writer

Marian Beddill provides a general guide for the public, with a look at the history of water rights in Washington state.

4 comments; last on May 26, 2013

Coal Trains and Unhealthy Air - Any Connection?

Sun, May 05, 2013, 3:45 pm  //  John Servais

Help fund a scientific study looking for links between diesel locomotives, coal trains and unhealthy air.


Closing Arguments in Defense of the Reconveyance

Mon, Mar 11, 2013, 7:37 am  //  Guest writer

Guest writer Shane Roth writes in favor of the reconveyance of Lake Whatcom land back to the county.

1 comments; last on Mar 11, 2013

City Controls Chuckanut Park - Not New Park District

Fri, Feb 22, 2013, 3:47 pm  //  John Servais

The election created a new park district with taxing power - but with NO control over Chuckanut Ridge - the 100 acre woods.

1 comments; last on Feb 23, 2013

Waterfront EIS Revised Without Public Process

Tue, Feb 19, 2013, 10:40 pm  //  Wendy Harris

An "Updated Preferred Alternative" reduces the number of waterfront jobs and expands the boundary of the waterfront district.


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Wed, Feb 13, 2013, 4:42 pm  //  John Servais

The Park District vote is close and we will not know final results until late ballots are counted.

6 comments; last on Feb 19, 2013

Time to Vote on Park District

Sat, Feb 09, 2013, 1:14 am  //  John Servais

The proponents have avoided the issues on the Park District as the close of voting nears this weekend.

2 comments; last on Feb 12, 2013

Former Park Directors Against Park District Proposal

Thu, Jan 31, 2013, 1:36 pm  //  Guest writer

Paul Leuthold and Byron Elmendorf explain why to vote NO on the Chuckanut Park District ballot measure.

19 comments; last on Feb 12, 2013

Wise Owl Knows What to Do

Tue, Jan 29, 2013, 6:25 pm  //  Guest writer

Bill Geyer explains Transfer Development Rights and how they can be applied to the Chuckanut Ridge.

17 comments; last on Feb 06, 2013

Aquatic Invasive Species Plan for Lake Whatcom

Mon, Jan 28, 2013, 2:52 am  //  Wendy Harris

Improving ecosystem functions holistically is the best form of protection for the Lake Whatcom.

1 comments; last on Jan 29, 2013

EIS Scoping Period for GPT is Closed

Tue, Jan 22, 2013, 7:19 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Links to a few noteworthy GPT scoping comments .

1 comments; last on Jan 23, 2013

Is Noncompliance Addicting?

Fri, Jan 11, 2013, 2:35 pm  //  Wendy Harris

A proposed amendment to the Lake Whatcom watershed moratorium will increase water quality degradation

1 comments; last on Jan 12, 2013

Noncompliance 2013: The Game

Mon, Jan 07, 2013, 12:49 am  //  Wendy Harris

Watch the Whatcom County Council wiggle its way out of the latest round of GMA compliance requirements for Lake Whatcom

1 comments; last on Jul 27, 2013

Whatcom County STILL Not Compliant With GMA

Sat, Jan 05, 2013, 12:37 am  //  Wendy Harris

Council majority willing to spend, and spend, and spend public funds defending development rights

2 comments; last on Jan 05, 2013

Slaughterhouses and Rendering Plants - Videographers Needed

Mon, Dec 03, 2012, 4:26 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein citizens must hold their representatives' feet to the fire

6 comments; last on Dec 09, 2012

Lummi Nation Opposes Coal Terminal

Fri, Sep 21, 2012, 9:53 am  //  John Servais

Bellingham Business Journal breaking story - Lummi's to hold meeting today at noon to speak against the Cherry Point project.

7 comments; last on Nov 04, 2012

Local Conservative Blog Fails at Flowcharts

Wed, Sep 05, 2012, 12:00 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley patiently explains to the Whatcom Excavator what a flowchart should look like


The Political Junkie interviews “Power Past Coal”

Mon, Aug 20, 2012, 9:00 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley sits down with Matt Petryni with Power Past Coal to get the latest scoop


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Fri, Aug 17, 2012, 12:50 am  //  Wendy Harris

The Mayor's Negotiations With Costco Undercuts City Permit Procedures And Public Process

4 comments; last on Aug 17, 2012

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Sun, Jul 29, 2012, 12:17 pm  //  John Servais

New report suggests U.S. weather stations reporting higher temperatures because NOAA has poorly managed sensors and caused false higher readings.

11 comments; last on Aug 06, 2012

The Road to Nowhere Can Go Forward

Tue, Apr 24, 2012, 1:02 am  //  Guest writer

Developers are gaming the system with help from the county government - and big changes are made in multiple small changes.

1 comments; last on Apr 27, 2012

Growth, Sprawl & Infill:  Padden Trails Project

Fri, Apr 06, 2012, 8:16 am  //  Guest writer

Ken Mann writes a guest article of his personal support for the Padden Trails development inside the Bellingham city limits.

3 comments; last on Apr 07, 2012

Questions about Population Growth

Mon, Apr 02, 2012, 12:43 pm  //  Larry Horowitz

Where to begin? Misinformation. Disinformation. Truths. Myths. Same old, same old. Paradigm shift. GMA. OFM. Growth pressures. Population loss. Growth subsidies. Proportionate share.

36 comments; last on Apr 11, 2012

The Curious Disappearance of Bob Ferris

Fri, Mar 09, 2012, 12:15 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley gets to the bottom of this in a NWCitizen Exclusive

4 comments; last on Apr 01, 2012

Squalicum Mountain development gets favors from county

Sat, Feb 18, 2012, 4:03 pm  //  Guest writer

No EIS - no real county planning concern about developing Squalicum Mountain and degrading Lake Whatcom water even further.


Planning Commission Fails to Remove Cherry Point From Birch Bay Mitigation Plan

Wed, Dec 14, 2011, 9:05 am  //  Wendy Harris

Claiming it is unfair to treat large property owners different than small property owners, the Commission refuses to remove industrial areas from buffer mitigation proposal.


Loophole Benefits SSA and Undermines Birch Bay Mitigation Proposal

Wed, Dec 07, 2011, 9:00 am  //  Wendy Harris

Tell the Planning Commission to eliminate this loophole

2 comments; last on Dec 15, 2011

The Cole Train: Loads of BS

Sun, Dec 04, 2011, 6:53 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein the sooty prospect of economic necessity rears its ugly head

2 comments; last on Dec 05, 2011

Bad Idea, Wrong Place, and Wrong Time

Mon, Oct 31, 2011, 4:07 pm  //  Guest writer

Bob Ferris of Re-Sources takes a values based perspective on our community and a possible coal port.

9 comments; last on Nov 02, 2011

SSA already started construction at Cherry Point

Fri, Jul 29, 2011, 11:11 am  //  John Servais

The Gateway Pacific coal port appears to be under construction now - secretly and w/o permits.

36 comments; last on Aug 05, 2011

Chuckanut Ridge now fully owned by bank

Fri, Jul 22, 2011, 4:52 pm  //  John Servais

Washington Federal has bought out Greenbriar's interest in Chuckanut Ridge.

3 comments; last on Jul 25, 2011

The Political Junkie Interviews Christina Maginnis

Mon, Jul 18, 2011, 10:03 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

The Political Junkie interviews Christina Maginnis

4 comments; last on Jul 22, 2011

Problems with SEPA review of Cornwall Landfill

Thu, Jun 23, 2011, 8:30 am  //  Wendy Harris

Time is running out for public comment on the Port's proposal to use toxic waste as a cap at waterfront re-development site.

5 comments; last on Jul 02, 2011

On the Take - Coal Port advocates

Wed, Jun 08, 2011, 2:09 pm  //  John Servais

Who all is on the take? Who all has not been up front about being on the take for the Coal Port?

4 comments; last on Jun 12, 2011

Running blog on Coal Port

Fri, Jun 03, 2011, 12:56 pm  //  John Servais

A running update of links and info on the Coal Port and Trains of proposed Gateway Pacific at Cherry Point.

15 comments; last on Jun 29, 2011

Dave Warren plays the martyr

Thu, Jun 02, 2011, 7:45 pm  //  John Servais

The public meeting to hear opinions about the coal port last night saw local union leader Dave Warren playing games.

3 comments; last on Jun 05, 2011

Flash mob for coal meeting

Wed, Jun 01, 2011, 5:32 pm  //  Guest writer

Guest writer Mark Flanders' call to action for June 1 flash mob at coal port meeting

7 comments; last on Jun 09, 2011

From the Political Junkie: Patti Brooks is a Socialist

Wed, May 18, 2011, 10:31 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Patti Brooks' war on gophers shows how she is a socialist

3 comments; last on May 28, 2011

State Board invalidates County planning

Thu, Dec 23, 2010, 6:19 pm  //  John Servais

Crawford, Kremen & Co. have been stopped by Growth Management Board.

4 comments; last on Dec 27, 2010

Is Boulevard Park/Cornwall Landfill Overwater Walkway A Toxic Trail?

Wed, Dec 15, 2010, 10:07 pm  //  Guest writer

Wendy Harris writes about a multi million dollar planned city of Bellingham project.

9 comments; last on Dec 18, 2010

No “future” for conservation?

Sat, Nov 20, 2010, 4:13 pm  //  Guest writer

Dave Stalheim warns us the Council is poised to rob the Conservation Futures Fund.

2 comments; last on Nov 25, 2010


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