Posts Tagged ‘SSA’

Cut our Losses; Abandon the Gateway Pacific Terminal

Friday, June 15th, 2012

It is about time we just cut our losses and abandon the fight for a Coal Port at Cherry Point.  In my opinion we have reached a point where there are so many reasons not to have the Gateway Pacific Terminal/SSA Marine Port, that continuing the fight, which is really fight between coal fired conglomerates and the Sierra Club, will only create a big lose lose situation regardless of who wins the fight.

Reasons not to have the Gateway Pacific Terminal/SSA Marine Port.

  • Our coal reserve is of strategic importance.
  • Coal is a raw material that we should be using to create value added items for export so the import/export balance shifts in the right direction for US companies
  • Exporting coal helps China to produce goods for us to import which shifts the import/export balance in the wrong direction.
  • Additional shipping terminal, whether coal or not coal will have an additional negative impact on the environment.  How much or how little will be mitigated doesn’t change the fact that there will be some negative impact.
  • Health risks due to the transport and storage of coal in Whatcom County and beyond.
  • Coal trains are a visually ugly blight on the look and feel of Bellingham.
  • Coal trains will add to much noise to the local environment
  • Taxpayers will be stuck with the financial impact of transportation upgrades due all aspects of the port.
  • Cancer rates in Whatcom will go up.
  • Long wait times at rail crossings will adversely effect business.
  • Continued advancement of corporate greed and rule over the American people
  • Wetlands destroyed/not fully mitigated
  • Wildlife suffering
  • Global warming/Global climate change due to coal burning
  • etc.
  • etc.
  • etc.

Whether you agree with the reasons or not,  they are still positions that are held by some in the community so even if they might not be legal or real to you or I, they are fit for the argument because they are real to those who believe them.  This is especially so in the court of public opinion, which is currently where the coal port battle is being waged.  This is not to say that there aren’t good arguments for the Coal Port such as jobs, tax revenue, and just plain standing up for property rights.  After all, in America if someone owns property and they are using it in a legal manner, then they have the right to do so.  However in America you also have the legal right to step off a curb into the crosswalk  when the Walk signal appears, but doing so in front of a red-light running MAC truck is still stupid.  You can make a stand for what is right, but the game always ends the same way, MAC truck 1 – Pedestrian 0

The Sierra Club is that red-light running MAC truck with a no coal goal and they don’t seem to care what laws are broken and who is run over as long as the coal is left in the ground.  And like the MAC truck, it seems the Sierra club doesn’t lose.

Sierra Club: Coal Victories Across the Nation!

Because we live in a world currently powered primarily by fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil, and because a good portion of the suppliers of crude oil are unstable and openly hostile towards our nation, I consider all U.S. fossil fuels to be strategic reserves.  If and/or when the Middle East becomes too unstable or radioactive to supply us with oil, I for one, would like to still be sitting on a large pile of coal.  Our national leaders haven’t come to this realization yet, and started addressing it with legislation, but they will.   I am firmly opposed to this Coal Port proposal because the primary customer for the coal is not within our nation, it is China.  Run a coal train right out to Cherry Point on their way to Alaska, Oregon, California and I’ll happy wave to them as they rumble by, but don’t ship US coal to a foreign nation.

I’m not opposed though to burning fossil fuels of all types, however I’d be stupid, as would anyone, to turn a blind eye to the Sierra Club’s record in opposition to coal and other fossil fuels.   Given their record who would bet against them?  Perhaps someone with a lot of money?  Maybe, but even money won’t guarantee a Coal Port when Sierra Club, with plenty of financial and government support, has been placing even more emphasis on coal over the last few years.Sierra Club annual notes

But what if the unimaginable happens and Coal Port proponents do manage to squeak out a victory?  Well it would have come at a large financial cost to Whatcom County and Bellingham.   The battles would have also created a much stronger, more motivated, more cohesive green socialist group in the Bellingham area and in spite of the Coal Port being built, the anti-coal groups will likely have used anti-coal sentiments to help pass things like the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights and more stringent land use regulations.  We’d have a coal port, but also a much more greatly divide social climate and a much more unfriendly business environment.

There isn’t a win anywhere in the future so it is time to take a hard pragmatic look at the lose-lose situation and cut our losses.   Time to have the County Council just say no to the port and all the expenses involved with the battle.

Ethics of Trespassing

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Reading the local blogosphere today, after a nice little Oregon vacation sans computer, it appears to me that Whatcom County Council Member Carl Weimer has made a clear lapse in judgment first by trespassing on private property and then a second lapse by publishing his lapse for all of the world to read.  I find it a little unclear as to whether his blog called carl votes, is an official or personal endeavor.  He lists his official CWeimer@co.whatcom.wa.us address for the contact, but delves into matters from a more personal angle, but lists another site as My County Council Website, yet it is actually a www.voteweimer.com address and reads more like an Elect Carl Weimer website.   It’s confusing.

Official or not, on the carl votes site, Councilman Wiemer has recently written two posts outlining some goings on out at the proposed SSA GateWay terminal site on Cherry Point.  The first post  Cherry Point – Full Disclosure describes how he, presumably while innocentlywalking his dogs, ran across what he felt was improper work being done at the SSA site and the second post Cherry Point Clearing Questions Asked describe his subsequent questioning of Sam Ryan, Director of Whatcom County Planning and Development Service regarding what Councilman Weimer felt were code violations.

Here are a few things that Wally wonders:

  1. What is SSA doing on the site and is it legal?
  2. What is Carl Weimer doing on the site and is it legal?
  3. Does anyone besides myself question the ethics of a sitting council member trespassing to obtain information regarding a current issue on the Whatcom County Councils agenda?

First, I think it is a valid question to ask if what SSA is doing on their land is legal and oddly enough the county has a procedure and a form to legally get the process started for anyone with concerns.  Also oddly enough the form bears the name of one Sam Ryan, the same person Carl Weimer addressed his inquiry.   Did Councilman Weimer skip the form?  And was his report processed in the same manner as other reports?

Second, can anyone walk around the SSA site or any other piece of private property snapping pictures, measuring, and documenting without the owners permission or is it just County Councilman Wiemer who feels he is above privacy rules?  And if you read his blog and bought into his story about him just happening upon this while walking his dog on a county road, then you are either blind or gullible.  Really, how many people take measuring tapes along when they walk their dog?  Or believe he didn’t leave county roads even though he is pictured on what is obviously not a county road?

And lastly I think Carl Weimer has unethically  used his position on the council, what I see as blatant trespassing, and his maybe official or maybe not blog to attempt to influence the outcome of an issue that is of concern to everyone in Whatcom County.  Here’s a link to the Whatcom County Ethics Commission.  Tell them Wally sent you.

Shock Jocks at the Bellingham Herald

Monday, July 25th, 2011

This just came in the mail today and I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I was taken in by the Shock Jocks at the Herald.   It’s been a full 3 weeks since the fire, but suspected fireworks damage is still sensational enough to rank high on the Shocko-meter.

While I’m embarrassed I fell for it, I’d hope the Herald, who I think still believes they are in the news business, would be embarrassed themselves for trying to pass this off as a news article in order to sell ad space.   This fire caused enough damage to shutdown the tracks and could have caused a serious train derailment, but the real story was 3 weeks ago and today’s shock version contained no new information about the fire.  Nor did it contain any follow up or even mention of the more recent incident nearby the fire where enough spikes were mysteriously removed from the tracks to again derail a train.

With such a recent focus on train safety through Bellingham as it relates to the proposed GateWay Terminal, I think that Shock Jock stuff like this actually does a disservice by minimizing real news events.

For or Agin’ Coal Trains

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Do I have to admire RE-Sources dedication to the envirionment even if I feel like they are lyin’ through their teeth?

According to BNSF we already have 6 coal trains per day coming through our county on their way to Point Roberts and RE-Sources says that when the SSA Gateway Terminal is opened then the coal pollution from the predicted 18 trains per day will be intolerable.

…these 15,000-ton trains will lose three percent of their load in transit or 1,780,000 short tons of coal dust spread annually from the Powder River Basin to the terminal.  RE-Sources

If the number of trains we see running through here triples then we will be seeing triple the pollution also right?  And that’s got to be really bad, right?

Well, no not exactly.  I just checked along the tracks and see no evidence of coal pollution, nothing dead or blackened.  Things were mostly green and spring like from all that I could see.  So three times no pollution to speak of  is still no pollution to speak of.  So I’m left with no alternative but to believe that it is RE-Sources and not the trains that are blowing coal dust.

However, regardless of how much I feel RE-Sources is blowing coal dust to the public regarding coal pollution, I find myself somewhat on the same side of the SSA terminal proposal.  I’m in favor of a cargo terminal at Cherry Point and I’m not opposed to it’s primary cargo being coal.  But I am opposed to this proposal because the primary customer for the coal is not within our nation, it is China.  Run a coal train right out to Cherry Point on their  way to Alaska, Oregon, California and I’ll happy wave to them as they rumble by,  but don’t ship US coal to a foreign nation.

…a lumbering BNSF coal train for you viewing

Because we live in a world currently powered primarily by fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil, and because a good portion of the suppliers of crude oil are unstable and openly hostile towards our nation, I consider all US fossil fuels to be strategic reserves.  If and/or when the Middle East becomes too unstable or radioactive to supply us with oil, I for one, would like to still be sitting on a large pile of coal. Our national leaders haven’t come to this realization yet, and started addressing it with legislation, but they will. 

I’m not in favor of a coal port to China, but neither am I in favor of the RE Sources environmental political speak.