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Mon, Jul 07, 2014, 5:04 am // Guest writer
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 www.gatewaypacificterminal.com 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 ClimateCentral.org, 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.
Mon, Jul 07, 2014, 5:04 am // Guest writerGuest 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
Wed, Jun 11, 2014, 11:39 am // John ServaisWyoming 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
Sun, Jun 01, 2014, 12:39 am // Guest writerA Venn diagram where coal, the Endangered Species Act, Republicans, and Wyoming’s Board of Education collide.
2 comments; last on Jun 02, 2014
Wed, May 28, 2014, 3:15 pm // Guest writerA 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
Thu, May 22, 2014, 12:10 am // Guest writerWyoming 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
Tue, May 13, 2014, 5:04 pm // Wendy HarrisBellingham's annual water quality report indicates that city hall's propoganda machine is going strong
1 comments; last on May 14, 2014
Sun, May 11, 2014, 2:20 pm // Terry WechslerPart 1: Introduction to the Bellingham Basin’s Potential for Fracking, Earthquakes, and Earthquakes Due to Fracking
3 comments; last on May 14, 2014
Fri, May 09, 2014, 6:10 am // Terry WechslerWhy 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
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 1:59 pm // Terry WechslerA closer look at Whatcom County's industrial "stewards of the environment."
3 comments; last on Jun 25, 2014
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 11:43 am // Wendy HarrisThe public needs to support city council and request that a waterfront habitat assessment include terrestrial species and habitat connectivity.
Sat, Apr 19, 2014, 2:57 pm // Terry Wechsleror How Not to Plan for Future Generations' Water Needs
12 comments; last on Jun 30, 2014
Sun, Apr 06, 2014, 12:52 pm // Terry WechslerWhy commenting on the EIS for Comp Plan revisions for Cherry Point means demanding an EIS in the first place.
5 comments; last on Jun 25, 2014
Wed, Mar 19, 2014, 10:32 am // Riley SweeneyRiley digs into the county's plan to buy the county morgue
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Fri, Mar 14, 2014, 10:47 am // John ServaisFukushima radiation has been found 20 miles from Whatcom County farmland along the Fraser River in British Columbia.
1 comments; last on Mar 17, 2014
Mon, Mar 10, 2014, 10:51 am // Riley SweeneyRiley digs into an unusual hiring decision at the County Planning Dept
1 comments; last on Mar 10, 2014
Sat, Dec 07, 2013, 12:03 am // Wendy HarrisThe county will be required to consider water quality and water quantity when planning rural growth.
3 comments; last on Dec 10, 2013
Tue, Oct 08, 2013, 3:22 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city staff considers the overwater walkway a done deal before official approval or resolution of treaty right conflicts
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Sun, Jun 30, 2013, 11:28 am // John ServaisBellingham City Council ready to approve $500,000 of trails money for resurfacing plastic grass on Civic Field.
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Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 7:29 am // Riley SweeneyRiley Sweeney examines Sen. Ericksen's legislative methods
Fri, May 24, 2013, 1:18 am // Guest writerMarian 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
Sun, May 05, 2013, 3:45 pm // John ServaisHelp fund a scientific study looking for links between diesel locomotives, coal trains and unhealthy air.
Mon, Mar 11, 2013, 7:37 am // Guest writerGuest writer Shane Roth writes in favor of the reconveyance of Lake Whatcom land back to the county.
1 comments; last on Mar 11, 2013
Fri, Feb 22, 2013, 3:47 pm // John ServaisThe 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
Tue, Feb 19, 2013, 10:40 pm // Wendy HarrisAn "Updated Preferred Alternative" reduces the number of waterfront jobs and expands the boundary of the waterfront district.
Wed, Feb 13, 2013, 4:42 pm // John ServaisThe Park District vote is close and we will not know final results until late ballots are counted.
6 comments; last on Feb 19, 2013
Sat, Feb 09, 2013, 1:14 am // John ServaisThe proponents have avoided the issues on the Park District as the close of voting nears this weekend.
2 comments; last on Feb 12, 2013
Thu, Jan 31, 2013, 1:36 pm // Guest writerPaul Leuthold and Byron Elmendorf explain why to vote NO on the Chuckanut Park District ballot measure.
19 comments; last on Feb 12, 2013
Tue, Jan 29, 2013, 6:25 pm // Guest writerBill Geyer explains Transfer Development Rights and how they can be applied to the Chuckanut Ridge.
17 comments; last on Feb 06, 2013
Mon, Jan 28, 2013, 2:52 am // Wendy HarrisImproving ecosystem functions holistically is the best form of protection for the Lake Whatcom.
1 comments; last on Jan 29, 2013
Tue, Jan 22, 2013, 7:19 pm // Wendy HarrisLinks to a few noteworthy GPT scoping comments .
1 comments; last on Jan 23, 2013
Fri, Jan 11, 2013, 2:35 pm // Wendy HarrisA proposed amendment to the Lake Whatcom watershed moratorium will increase water quality degradation
1 comments; last on Jan 12, 2013
Mon, Jan 07, 2013, 12:49 am // Wendy HarrisWatch 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
Sat, Jan 05, 2013, 12:37 am // Wendy HarrisCouncil majority willing to spend, and spend, and spend public funds defending development rights
2 comments; last on Jan 05, 2013
Mon, Dec 03, 2012, 4:26 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein citizens must hold their representatives' feet to the fire
6 comments; last on Dec 09, 2012
Fri, Sep 21, 2012, 9:53 am // John ServaisBellingham 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
Wed, Sep 05, 2012, 12:00 pm // Riley SweeneyRiley patiently explains to the Whatcom Excavator what a flowchart should look like
Mon, Aug 20, 2012, 9:00 am // Riley SweeneyRiley sits down with Matt Petryni with Power Past Coal to get the latest scoop
Fri, Aug 17, 2012, 12:50 am // Wendy HarrisThe Mayor's Negotiations With Costco Undercuts City Permit Procedures And Public Process
4 comments; last on Aug 17, 2012
Sun, Jul 29, 2012, 12:17 pm // John ServaisNew 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
Tue, Apr 24, 2012, 1:02 am // Guest writerDevelopers 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
Fri, Apr 06, 2012, 8:16 am // Guest writerKen 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
Mon, Apr 02, 2012, 12:43 pm // Larry HorowitzWhere 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
Fri, Mar 09, 2012, 12:15 pm // Riley SweeneyRiley gets to the bottom of this in a NWCitizen Exclusive
4 comments; last on Apr 01, 2012
Sat, Feb 18, 2012, 4:03 pm // Guest writerNo EIS - no real county planning concern about developing Squalicum Mountain and degrading Lake Whatcom water even further.
Wed, Dec 14, 2011, 9:05 am // Wendy HarrisClaiming it is unfair to treat large property owners different than small property owners, the Commission refuses to remove industrial areas from buffer mitigation proposal.
Wed, Dec 07, 2011, 9:00 am // Wendy HarrisTell the Planning Commission to eliminate this loophole
2 comments; last on Dec 15, 2011
Sun, Dec 04, 2011, 6:53 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein the sooty prospect of economic necessity rears its ugly head
2 comments; last on Dec 05, 2011
Mon, Oct 31, 2011, 4:07 pm // Guest writerBob Ferris of Re-Sources takes a values based perspective on our community and a possible coal port.
9 comments; last on Nov 02, 2011
Fri, Jul 29, 2011, 11:11 am // John ServaisThe Gateway Pacific coal port appears to be under construction now - secretly and w/o permits.
36 comments; last on Aug 05, 2011
Fri, Jul 22, 2011, 4:52 pm // John ServaisWashington Federal has bought out Greenbriar's interest in Chuckanut Ridge.
3 comments; last on Jul 25, 2011
Mon, Jul 18, 2011, 10:03 pm // Riley SweeneyThe Political Junkie interviews Christina Maginnis
4 comments; last on Jul 22, 2011
Thu, Jun 23, 2011, 8:30 am // Wendy HarrisTime 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
Wed, Jun 08, 2011, 2:09 pm // John ServaisWho 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
Fri, Jun 03, 2011, 12:56 pm // John ServaisA 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
Thu, Jun 02, 2011, 7:45 pm // John ServaisThe 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
Wed, Jun 01, 2011, 5:32 pm // Guest writerGuest writer Mark Flanders' call to action for June 1 flash mob at coal port meeting
7 comments; last on Jun 09, 2011
Wed, May 18, 2011, 10:31 am // Riley SweeneyPatti Brooks' war on gophers shows how she is a socialist
3 comments; last on May 28, 2011
Thu, Dec 23, 2010, 6:19 pm // John ServaisCrawford, Kremen & Co. have been stopped by Growth Management Board.
4 comments; last on Dec 27, 2010
Wed, Dec 15, 2010, 10:07 pm // Guest writerWendy Harris writes about a multi million dollar planned city of Bellingham project.
9 comments; last on Dec 18, 2010
Sat, Nov 20, 2010, 4:13 pm // Guest writerDave Stalheim warns us the Council is poised to rob the Conservation Futures Fund.
2 comments; last on Nov 25, 2010
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