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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
Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 9:01 pm // Guest writerIn the Weekly, Tim Johnson left out three words in quoting Craig Cole - and his story misleads readers. Guest article by Sandy Robson.
11 comments; last on Jul 01, 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
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
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
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
Sun, Mar 02, 2014, 3:22 pm // John ServaisThe editor of the Whatcom Watch, Richard Jehn, has resigned effective today. Chalk up a victory for Craig Cole and Pacific International Terminals.
8 comments; last on Mar 05, 2014
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 9:29 pm // John ServaisThe full text of Craig Cole's threatening letter of libel against the Whatcom Watch. And the emptiness of the threat.
16 comments; last on Mar 20, 2014
Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 5:48 pm // John ServaisCraig Cole, the local contact for the proposed Cherry Point coal port has threatened the Whatcom Watch with a libel lawsuit.
6 comments; last on Mar 20, 2014
Wed, Oct 02, 2013, 6:40 am // Riley SweeneyRiley uncovers how the Coal Industry is funding conservative candidates in Whatcom County
11 comments; last on Oct 03, 2013
Fri, May 31, 2013, 12:01 am // Guest writerJeffrey Margolis urges us to request the Nooksack South Fork Valley be included in the Coal Port environmental study.
3 comments; last on Jun 02, 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.
Tue, Jan 22, 2013, 7:19 pm // Wendy HarrisLinks to a few noteworthy GPT scoping comments .
1 comments; last on Jan 23, 2013
Wed, Dec 19, 2012, 12:12 pm // John ServaisA dramatic video of yet another mudslide near Everett - and what will be coming down on coal trains. Amtrak service to Bellingham is shut down.
4 comments; last on Dec 20, 2012
Sat, Dec 08, 2012, 2:43 pm // John ServaisA giant coal freighter went right through the long dock early Friday morning. Nothing in print edition of Herald
3 comments; last on Dec 11, 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
Mon, Aug 20, 2012, 9:00 am // Riley SweeneyRiley sits down with Matt Petryni with Power Past Coal to get the latest scoop
Thu, Aug 09, 2012, 9:30 pm // Larry HorowitzQuestions raised by the Superior Court's barring of the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights initiative from being placed on the ballot.
21 comments; last on Aug 17, 2012
Sun, Jul 15, 2012, 1:54 am // Tip JohnsonWherein we see the Railroad walking it's walk while we get ready to talk our talk.
1 comments; last on Jul 16, 2012
Sun, Jan 15, 2012, 1:06 am // Wendy HarrisPlanning Commissioner Onkels should recuse himself from review of environmental impacts at GPT.
3 comments; last on Feb 08, 2012
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
Fri, Dec 02, 2011, 3:08 pm // Wendy HarrisPlanning Staff's recommended revision will not prevent SSA from reducing wetland buffers.
Tue, Nov 22, 2011, 11:29 pm // Wendy HarrisThe County's new mitigation proposal is unlikely to be adequate for Cherry Point's industrial impacts to habitat buffers
3 comments; last on Nov 24, 2011
Sat, Nov 19, 2011, 10:24 pm // Paul deArmondLooking at the numbers for the Bellingham elections
11 comments; last on Nov 22, 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
Thu, Sep 08, 2011, 10:37 am // Riley SweeneyLook at the title, it spells it out.
6 comments; last on Sep 12, 2011
Thu, Sep 01, 2011, 3:46 pm // John ServaisGeorge Black is comprehensive on the Powder River coal basin, BNSF, and the shipping of coal from Cherry Point and Longview.
6 comments; last on Sep 07, 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
Mon, Jun 20, 2011, 11:42 am // Tip JohnsonWherein something smells a bit fishy
2 comments; last on Jul 29, 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
Mon, May 30, 2011, 11:40 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein blackened hearts and minds are initially examined
6 comments; last on Jun 02, 2011
Fri, Mar 25, 2011, 5:00 am // John ServaisCoal trains will probably pass Lynden on their way from Sumas to Cherry Point, after coming across on the Canadian rail roads.
16 comments; last on Aug 14, 2011
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