Yesterday the first of seven scoping hearings on the impacts of the proposed coal maga-port just north of Bellingham was held. About 2,000 people attended at a High School in Bellingham.
I was one of 200 people who signed up to make verbal comments before the panels. They had anticipated a lot of comments so two venues were set up one in a auditorium and the other in the gym that were going simultaneously during the four hour hearing. I got #94 for the session in the gym. A lopsided majority of those who spoke were in opposition to the proposed coal port. This in the town where the coal port would supposedly have the biggest economic benefit of anywhere along the shipping route for the coal trains.
The most moving of all the comments that I heard came form a woman who followed eighty odd others before she spoke. She said was 83 years old and she wanted to say how sorry she was about having come to comment. Then she tearfully explained how she had signed up to comment for her grand children's sake because she wanted there to be more jobs for them. But the preceding comments (the majority from the opponents to the coal maga-port) had completely changed her mind about the project. She told us how she doesn't watch TV or follow the news much. Then she apologized again profusely in tears, and said it would be better if SSA Marine's Coal Port were never built. The audience in the gym was riveted with many of the listeners also in tears.
Community speaks out about controversial coal terminal near Cherry Point
by AMY MORENO / KING 5 News
Some residents are skeptical of the process and hope the review will look at all the possible impacts.
“The runoff from coal does get into the water and the soil,” said Nicole Brown.
Brown is an organic farmer and says she’s also concerned about her family.
“When it's safer to eat food out of a can than your own backyard; that concerns me,” she said.
Members of the Lummi Tribe at first Scoping Hearing.
Coal port debate packs Squalicum High School
THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
BELLINGHAM - Close to 2,000 people came to Squalicum High School on Saturday, Oct. 27, to participate in a public meeting called to identify public concerns about the Gateway Pacific Terminal coal export pier proposed at Whatcom County's Cherry Point.
Lummi Indian Business Council member Jay Julius said tribal leaders have been advised to wait until the coal port proposal gets scientific study before taking a stand, but he said that was not necessary.
"Science is respected by our nation, but we have our own knowledge and teaching," Julius said. "Lummi Nation says no. ... I am personally a fisherman as my great-great-great-grandparents were fishermen ... long before the arrival of science."
It appears that the August, 2011 land-clearing work that an SSA Marine subcontractor, AMEC Earth & Environmental, conducted on the Gateway Pacific site for geotechnical surveys played a key role in turning Lummi Nation against the project. That work was done without required permits, prompting a $2,000 fine from Whatcom County.That showed the kind of disregard SSA Marine has environmental regulations, just get it done quick, dirty, and cheaply.
Driving home in a unusually strong deluge I took a short side trip to the village of Conway in the Skagit Delta and stopped at The Muse for a beer. I told the woman bartender about the hearings. She said that her house was right next to the tracks the coal trains would use. She thought there would be an upcoming vote on the proposal for the Gateway Pacific Project, and was surprised when I told here the process for a project with such widespread impacts didn't include a public vote. The Village of Conway is completely cut in half whenever the trains are passing through. Going around isn't an option because it requires about a 20 mile detour through the Skagit Delta.
The proposed coal ports have become a issue in the Governor's race with stark differences between the approach Jay Inslee would take and Rob McKenna's attitude of bring it on.
Please take the time to attend one of upcoming six Scoping Hearings if you can.
11/3/12 – At Friday Harbor High School, 45 Blair Avenue, Friday Harbor, WA 98250 from 12am-3pm
11/5/12 – At McIntyre Hall, 2501 East College Way, Mount Vernon, WA 98273 from 4pm-7pm
11/13/12 – At North Seattle Community College, 9600 College Way North, Seattle, WA 98103 from 4pm-7pm
11/29/12 – At Ferndale Events Center, 5715 Barrett Road, Ferndale, WA 98248 from 3pm-7pm
12/4/12 – At Spokane County Fairgrounds, 404 North Havana Street, Spokane Valley, WA 99202 from 4pm-7pm
12/12/12 – At Clark College, Graiser Student Center, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver, WA 98663 from 4pm-7pm