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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, Jul 04, 2014, 5:00 am // Guest writerFerndale's most famous landmark is frequently commented on and is often in the news. Here is their side of the story.
4 comments; last on Jul 07, 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
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
Sat, May 17, 2014, 2:34 pm // Riley SweeneyRiley takes a closer look at the Charter Review Commission candidates
2 comments; last on May 21, 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, 10:02 am // John ServaisThe Political Junkie for Whatcom County - that would be Riley Sweeney - has Overstreet not running for reelection in the 42nd.
1 comments; last on May 13, 2014
Tue, May 06, 2014, 5:52 pm // Riley SweeneyThe value of a Precinct Committee Officer . . .
1 comments; last on May 07, 2014
Thu, May 01, 2014, 10:21 pm // Guest writerMove to Amend is a national movement to amend the U.S. Constitution and define persons as people and speech as not money.
7 comments; last on Jun 02, 2014
Wed, Apr 30, 2014, 8:20 am // John ServaisRiley posted this morning that Seth Fleetwood has decided to challenge Doug Ericksen for state senate in the 42nd District.
1 comments; last on Apr 30, 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
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
Thu, Apr 17, 2014, 10:40 am // Riley SweeneyA simple explanation of the Charter Review and analysis of District only voting
Wed, Mar 19, 2014, 10:32 am // Riley SweeneyRiley digs into the county's plan to buy the county morgue
3 comments; last on Mar 24, 2014
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
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
Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 8:26 am // Riley SweeneyRiley digs through court data and discovers the real impact of privatization and legalization
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
Mon, Nov 18, 2013, 11:59 am // Riley SweeneyThe county takes two big steps forward on the new jail, while still missing the point
Tue, Nov 05, 2013, 9:21 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
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
Thu, Sep 19, 2013, 7:08 am // Riley SweeneyRiley examines who is donating to which candidates
Mon, Aug 19, 2013, 8:08 am // Riley SweeneyRiley whole-heartedly urges Doug Ericksen to run for Congress in 2014
2 comments; last on Aug 19, 2013
Wed, Aug 14, 2013, 12:31 am // 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
Sun, Jul 14, 2013, 11:25 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, 9:29 am // John ServaisRiley Sweeney has a short but important expose over at the Political Junkie today.
1 comments; last on Jul 12, 2013
Fri, May 31, 2013, 5:43 pm // John ServaisLuba Pekisheva has been given a confusing run around in our Whatcom County courts for over three years. Judges, prosecutors and clerks have all participated.
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
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
Wed, May 22, 2013, 11:12 am // Guest writerBy Guest Writer Nicole Brown. This is a call to action for county citizens as the county tries to ram through the slaughterhouse rezones.
7 comments; last on May 26, 2013
Fri, May 17, 2013, 5:44 pm // John ServaisTuesday morning and nothing in today's Bellingham Herald. Nor online. We provide the basics to fill in this latest omission by our "daily" newspaper.
9 comments; last on May 23, 2013
Mon, Apr 22, 2013, 6:52 am // Riley SweeneyRiley attends Tea Party training and runs afoul of Rep. Overstreet
1 comments; last on Apr 22, 2013
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
Tue, Feb 26, 2013, 7:39 am // Riley SweeneyRiley details upcoming merger between PeaceHealth and a much more conservative entity
1 comments; last on Feb 26, 2013
Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 1:09 am // Wendy HarrisThe planning commission no longer serves its purpose due to Council's poor appointment choices
2 comments; last on Feb 10, 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
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
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
Sat, Nov 10, 2012, 10:53 am // Riley SweeneyRiley examines why the new jail site was selected without public input
1 comments; last on Nov 12, 2012
Sat, Nov 03, 2012, 2:21 pm // Tip JohnsonAn letter to the County Council on opening the county to the slaughter industry
8 comments; last on Nov 09, 2012
Wed, Oct 31, 2012, 8:29 am // Riley SweeneyHere's your shot at fame and glory as a political pundit
4 comments; last on Nov 02, 2012
Tue, Oct 02, 2012, 9:22 am // Riley SweeneyRiley examines Rep. Vincent Buys' legislative record
1 comments; last on Dec 02, 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, 7:24 pm // Guest writerDavid Maas, a retired college prof, asks why the city of Bellingham is supposedly powerless to stop the development of a private project that will reshape our community?
5 comments; last on Aug 26, 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
Fri, Jul 20, 2012, 5:44 pm // Riley SweeneyRiley gathers quotes, video footage and pictures from the recent tea party forum
1 comments; last on Jul 20, 2012
Tue, Jul 10, 2012, 9:45 am // Larry HorowitzWanted: Someone to interpret chamber president Oplinger's remarks
13 comments; last on Jul 13, 2012
Wed, Jul 04, 2012, 11:42 am // Riley SweeneyRiley interviews judicial candidates, reviews campaign tactics, and discusses fireworks
Sun, Jun 17, 2012, 9:52 am // Paul deArmondPort Commissioner Scott Walker and attorney Frank Chmelik get caught ballot-rigging again
20 comments; last on Jun 21, 2012
Fri, May 18, 2012, 11:27 am // Riley SweeneyA short plea for public involvement from Riley
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