Reliable Prosperity

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Thu, Aug 14, 2014, 3:13 pm  //  Guest writer

Sandra Robson guest writes this article.  She has researched and written about the problems with a coal port at Cherry Point for over a year, with 4 articles in the Whatcom Watch and now this 5th article on NWCitizen.

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Brad Owens and John Huntley are the spokespersons for Northwest Jobs Alliance (NJA), which was created to market the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) project at Cherry Point, proposed by SSA Marine/Pacific International Terminal (PIT). They recently co-authored an op-ed in the Bellingham Herald headlined, "Economic prosperity, quality of environment equally important.”

While Owens and Huntley tout the supposed economic prosperity of the proposed 48 million ton coal export terminal, Lummi people, who are the original inhabitants of Washington's northernmost coast, seem to have a different view of prosperity according to their Schelangen, or Lummi way of life.

Cherry Point is home to a significant environmental resource and unique aquatic ecosystem in the Strait of Georgia. The Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Management Plan, aimed at protecting the health and aquatic environment of Cherry Point, is a 90-year plan that was put into place in 2000 by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

The plan states the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve’s “marine waters and aquatic lands are a portion of Treaty-protected Usual and Accustomed grounds and stations of local Native American Indians, and are used by the Indians for commercial, ceremonial, and subsistence purposes.”

The National Museum of the American Indian website, a component of the Smithsonian Institute, offers a video about Lummi Nation called, “Our Homeland", which talks about Schelangen:

In Lummi territory, the rivers, estuaries, and ocean abound with life. This environment is home to more than 200 species of fish, 200 kinds of birds, and many species of mammals. There are vast forests of cedar and other trees, bushes, and small plants. It’s also the home to several species of salmon.”

The Lummi developed a deep knowledge of the environment by careful observation. They were expert in biology, botany, and medicine. And most importantly, they learned how to use the resources without using them up. In the Lummi language, this way of life is called schelangen.”

In the waterways in and around Cherry Point, Lummi fishers harvest salmon, halibut, herring, crab and shellfish. An OPB EarthFix article, "Tribal Fisherman Sees Coal Threat Looming," lists some concerns Lummi Indian Business Council (LIBC) member and fisherman, Jay Julius, has about the proposed coal terminal. Julius  "worries that the increased coal tanker [vessel] traffic would harm the tribe’s ability to exercise its treaty-guaranteed rights to harvest these fish and shellfish. . . One accident inside the Salish Sea and my way of life is gone." Julius added, “If the terminal is built, it could also destroy underwater archaeological sites and upland burial grounds."

If GPT is built, 487 Panamax and Capesize vessels are expected to call on the terminal, going in and out of Cherry Point every year. There are already oil tankers calling on Cherry Point for the two oil refineries and all these large vessels will be competing for space in the sensitive waters. 

Chain Reaction

The herring population at Cherry Point is dwindling, declining more than 92 percent between the 1970s and 2012. According to “Big Coal meets Cherry Point’s tiny herring,” a Crosscut.com article, "Scientists believe herring make up two thirds of the diet of the federally protected Chinook salmon; the Chinook in turn provide two-thirds of the food supply for Puget Sound Orcas."  Puget Sound Orca are a federally protected species by the Endangered Species Act.

In an April 3, 2014 letter to Governor Jay Inslee, the LIBC stated,  “…the Lummi Nation has a treaty right to harvest salmon and shellfish in a manner sufficient to support our Schelangen (‘way of life’).” Schelangen is a right guaranteed and protected by the Treaty of Point Elliott with the U.S. government. 

The LIBC wrote in its June 6, 2011 letter to the U.S. Department of Interior that, "The Lummi people have fished in the Nooksack River and the waters of northern Puget Sound since time immemorial. Article V of the Treaty of Point Elliott provides that the 'right of taking fish from usual and accustomed grounds and stations is further secured to said Indians in common with all citizens of the territory.'”  

Furthermore, "The Lummi Nation retains a federal reserved Indian water right to instream flows sufficient to support their treaty fishing rights. ...Lummi also retains a federal reserved water right for consumptive uses necessary to fulfill other purposes of its reservation." 

The letter goes on, "At this time, state-permitted water diversions have reduced flows in the Nooksack River and threaten the fish species that make up the Nation's treaty fishery. In addition, state sanctioned water withdrawals within the Lummi Reservation threaten the Nation's reserved water rights on the Reservation.” 

Currently, SSA Marine/PIT is contracted (through 2042) with the Whatcom County PUD 1 for a capacity of up to 5.33 million gallons of Nooksack River water daily. This water will be used to spray the 2 ½ miles of 60 ft. tall coal piles to prevent the coal from spontaneously combusting, as well as to try to minimize coal dust.

According to the LIBC, in their January 15, 2013 scoping comment submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding the Environmental Impact Statement for GPT, “Considering the depressed nature of Nooksack River salmon stocks including the listing of early‐run Chinook salmon pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, tribal treaty rights to a sustainable, harvestable surplus of salmon, and the need for instream flows, additional withdrawals from the Nooksack River for this proposed project should not be allowed.”

The LIBC also said that the proposed GPT, and the inter‐related BNSF Custer Spur Rail Expansion projects are both within the Lummi Nation Usual and Accustomed and traditional areas, and will result in significant, unavoidable, and unacceptable interference with their treaty rights and irreversible and irretrievable damage to their spiritual values.

In January 2014, KUOW Public Radio featured a series called, “Sacred Catch,” which explored the fishing rights of Native Americans in Washington state. Lummi elder Ramona Morris gave some insight as to how salmon is the Lummi Nation’s Sacred Catch: “Salmon is sacred to us in a sense. …We’ve been known as ‘The Salmon People.’ That’s our livelihood. That’s our survival. That helps us survive."  

Related Links:

-> Herring graph sourced to 2005 WA Dept Fish & Wildlife report
-> Lummi Nation Litigation Request - June 7, 2011

Walter Haugen  //  Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 9:55 am

Great article. However, for those people who like to think long term, it is important to realize the GPT will bring economic prosperity to only a few rich developers and corporations, with a small mix of construction workers - mostly from outside the area. However, it is also important for long-term thinkers to realize that “reliable prosperity” will look different than what most people think of as prosperity. It does not include every conceivable app, a McMansion and two huge pickemup trucks in the driveway.


Barbara Perry  //  Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 9:12 pm

Thank you Sandra,

Coal and Oil No Longer

Firstly, whoever the PUD person was who snuck in the Nooksack River water contract needs to be known and admonished.  I remember when Georgia Pacific (GP) was trying to renew their cheap water and their lease had run out so a new contract was due.  When government forces were going to continue GP’s cheap water bill that polluted everyone’s water and land, it was a few young Huxley students who spread the word that water rates must go up, and citizens came to a city council meeting to rebel that cheap water rates should not continue. Their protests made the rates go up and GP left the area rather than pay.  Unfortunately they probably went to some other area to pollute and left us with their cancer causing head and heart aches that the city now wants to make a tourist attraction.

But the point is, why aren’t we protesting the overpaid PUD scammer (man no doubt) for sneaking through a cheap water contract to Georgia Pacific Terminal GPT that will pollute the beautiful Nooksack River and Puget Sound? I would love to know his name and pay.

The Salish peoples have many legends describing famine with the destruction of the sea and sea life.  It is unfortunate the more recent psychologically starved settlers do not heed the need to respect sea life or famine will result.

Unfortunately, already there has been too much devastation of the sea and the land that we newcomers did not inherit but stole. We need to teach our people these legends’ lessons.

It is true in the past many tribes and cultures stole in order to expand, but let us not forget that we stole the Native land and now, if we want to protect this beautiful land we better try working and protesting to protect it.

Too bad that the GPT money minds do not respect that all peoples must work together to save our planet and not just rape and destroy it.

Ending on a positive note: let us thank all the peoples who have worked so diligently at stopping the continuing destruction of Cherry Point.  Unfortunately we have much more work to do. Let us look forward to getting rid of the oil plant and the aluminum plant that are also destroying much sea life by searching for non-polluting answers that do exist. That is where the jobs are.  Use your minds, laborers.

Before the settlers, the Salish peoples were thought to be the most wealthy peoples of the world because there was so much food to eat and labor was not intense.  Giving was a trait most respected. And they were not destroying the earth. 

I love to see that many countries are using Solar Power, wind and water power, so that even today, we may appreciate and share the wealth of the world.  There is no reason to pollute with oil and coal that mostly feed corrupt minds and lifestyles.  Now we must change people’s thinking that destructive labor is not necessary to survive.

We need jobs to create alternative energies. 

Too bad we must convince the money minds.


Thelma Follett  //  Sun, Aug 17, 2014, 2:17 pm

Do you remember when, way back in May- June of 2011, Ken Oplinger (Boo! Hiss!) and Dave Warren got together and created the Northwest Jobs (Unholy)Alliance out of thin air.  For a long time they kept claiming they had members but I could only discern those two.  Of course, it goes without saying that they could count on the ever present, ever helpful Craig Cole.
Thelma Follett


Sandy Robson  //  Sun, Aug 17, 2014, 9:43 pm

Barbara Perry:
Current PUD Commissioner Jeff McClure lobbied our WA state public lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark in 2010 about changes which coal terminal proponents wanted made to the language in the draft for the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Plan. I believe that is an inappropriate action on the part of a PUD Commissioner.

McClure is running as an incumbent against Bob Burr for PUD, so McClure’s support of GPT and his willingness to allow PIT to contract with the PUD through 2042 for a capacity of 5.33M gallons of Nooksack River water daily are 2 big reasons why people should vote for Bob Burr.

PUD Commissioner McClure and numerous local elected officials in June 2010, signed a letter supporting GPT, in which essentially they, along with others, were lobbying/advising Washington Public Lands Commissioner, Peter Goldmark, to remove what the signers of that letter perceived to be inherent conflicts in the Draft Cherry Point Environmental Aquatic Reserve Plan. Link to Goldmark letter:

+ Link

The signers on the June 2010 letter to Commissioner Goldmark were SSA consultant Craig Cole, Jeff McClure (Whatcom County PUD President/Commissioner), David Warren (Northwest Central Labor Council at that time, and co-chair of Northwest Jobs Alliance at that time) Tim Douglas (previously served 13 years as Bellingham Mayor and former member of Puget Sound Water Quality Authority), and Dale Brandland (WA State Senator at that time). Here is a link to the April 2013 Whatcom Watch article which talked about this: 
+ Link

In that letter, listed in Craig Cole’s short bio under his signature on the letter to Goldmark it said:

“Craig Cole is a businessman and former member and Chair of the Whatcom County Council. He Chaired the Whatcom County Natural Heritage Task Force, served on Commissioner Belcher’s Public Lands Advisory Committee, and has been an active supporter of environmental causes. He current serves the state as a university regent.”

Craig Cole did not bother to note in his bio that he was, and still is, working as a paid consultant for SSA/PIT for its proposed GPT.

Advocating for a 48M ton coal terminal which his paying client PIT, is trying to put on top of the Lummi Nation’s sacred waters and lands at Cherry Point, and in our community, pretty much wipes away any of Craig Cole’s past environmental do-gooding he may have done.

In the letter it says a response may be directed to a PO Box address listed there which is the location for Craig Cole’s consulting business, Straight Talk Consulting.

From a September 2013 Whatcom Watch article I wrote about water and GPT:

“In Washington state, water rights are managed by the Department of Ecology (DOE). Water rights can only be transferred if conditions similar to those for obtaining new water rights are met. Those are: the water right being transferred is a valid and legal water right; the water will be beneficially used; there is no impairment to existing water rights, including in-stream flows; it is not detrimental to the public interest; the instantaneous or annual amount used won’t increase; and the water source won’t change.

Do PIT’s water rights transferred to them with the Chevron purchase meet these requirements? Also, does the current contract PIT has with the PUD for supplying GPT with 5.33 million gallons per day of Nooksack River water meet the DOE’s requirements for PIT obtaining the new water rights it would need for the terminal?”


Reliable Prosperity

Thu, Aug 14, 2014, 3:13 pm  //  Guest writer

Sandy Robson guest writes of the need for real prosperity at Cherry Point, not a destructive short term coal port that destroys the fishing grounds.

4 comments; last on Aug 18, 2014

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

Johns Repair

Specializing in German vehicles...

Sins of Omission

Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 9:01 pm  //  Guest writer

In 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

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

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

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

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.

5 comments; last on Jun 25, 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

1 comments; last on Mar 10, 2014

Whatcom Watch Editor Resigns

Sun, Mar 02, 2014, 3:22 pm  //  John Servais

The 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

Relevant Documents to Libel Threat

Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 9:29 pm  //  John Servais

The 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

Craig Cole Threatens Libel Suit

Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 5:48 pm  //  John Servais

Craig 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

How the Coal Industry Funneled $40,000 into Whatcom

Wed, Oct 02, 2013, 6:40 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley uncovers how the Coal Industry is funding conservative candidates in Whatcom County

11 comments; last on Oct 03, 2013

Safeguard the Southfork

Fri, May 31, 2013, 12:01 am  //  Guest writer

Jeffrey 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

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.

0 comments

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

Video of Mudslide Derailing Train Monday

Wed, Dec 19, 2012, 12:12 pm  //  John Servais

A 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

Coal Ship Wrecks Vancouver Terminal

Sat, Dec 08, 2012, 2:43 pm  //  John Servais

A 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

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

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

0 comments

Coal Free Bellingham: Point Proven?

Thu, Aug 09, 2012, 9:30 pm  //  Larry Horowitz

Questions 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

BNSF Shoreline Improvements for the Proposed Gateway Pacific Coal Port

Sun, Jul 15, 2012, 1:54 am  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein we see the Railroad walking it's walk while we get ready to talk our talk.

1 comments; last on Jul 16, 2012

Planning Commissioner Mocks Environmental Concern For Coal Terminal

Sun, Jan 15, 2012, 1:06 am  //  Wendy Harris

Planning Commissioner Onkels should recuse himself from review of environmental impacts at GPT.

3 comments; last on Feb 08, 2012

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

Update on Cherry Point Buffer Mitigation Proposal

Fri, Dec 02, 2011, 3:08 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Planning Staff's recommended revision will not prevent SSA from reducing wetland buffers.

0 comments

County Proposal Includes New Cherry Point Buffer Mitigation Requirements

Tue, Nov 22, 2011, 11:29 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The 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

Cameras, not coal, decided the election

Sat, Nov 19, 2011, 10:24 pm  //  Paul deArmond

Looking at the numbers for the Bellingham elections

11 comments; last on Nov 22, 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

From the Political Junkie: Why is Dan Pike talking about Coal Trains?

Thu, Sep 08, 2011, 10:37 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Look at the title, it spells it out.

6 comments; last on Sep 12, 2011

“Coal on a Roll” - in depth from onearth.org

Thu, Sep 01, 2011, 3:46 pm  //  John Servais

George 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

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

The Cole Train: Tell it to the Herring

Mon, Jun 20, 2011, 11:42 am  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein something smells a bit fishy

2 comments; last on Jul 29, 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

The Cole Train: First Salvo

Mon, May 30, 2011, 11:40 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein blackened hearts and minds are initially examined

6 comments; last on Jun 02, 2011

Cross-County Coal Train is Coming

Fri, Mar 25, 2011, 5:00 am  //  John Servais

Coal 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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