I’m a fourth generation Whatcom County resident; my great grandparents purchased the land where my home stands on Birch Bay Drive. My father was a Port of Bellingham commissioner. My paternal grandfather was a fisherman. My maternal great grandfather was a farmer in Custer. Growing up, I loved being at the farm and playing on Birch Bay beaches, making sandcastles, tidepooling, crabbing, digging clams and fishing for bullheads. Now, I worry that future children won’t have experiences like these because of water scarcity and contamination. One of the main reasons I oppose the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) the coal export terminal proposed for Cherry Point, is that GPT would contaminate and waste water.
If built, GPT would spray up to 1.9 billion gallons of Nooksack River water annually on 2.5 miles of six-story high, uncovered coal stockpiles and use most of that water during hot, dry months when the Nooksack is lowest and our families, farmers and fish need it most.
Rainwater running off coal stockpiles, coal dust blowing off coal stockpiles and spilled coal dust would contaminate groundwater and the Salish Sea around Cherry Point, endangering herring, other fish and animals. Coal dust would accumulate on Birch Bay beaches.
Coal ships, some of the world’s largest and most accident-prone vessels, are too large for the arrow shipping lanes in our local waters. 974 times a year a GPT coal ship would travel through our local waters, risking running aground and colliding with oil tankers or other vessels. GPT’s spill response plan is vague and Washington’s budget cuts mean we don’t have the resources to clean up a spill if/when it happens. I’m also concerned that annually 8 billion gallons of coal ship ballast water taken on in Asia and discharged here would introduce invasive species into our local waters.
I encourage others who grew up in this wonderful place to share stories of childhood experiences that you hope future children will have a chance to enjoy. I agree with the Lummi people – we must stop this dirty GPT proposal so future children might have a chance to be healthy and experience some of what we did.
I’ve been crab fishing with my stepson this crab season. We have brought up larger crabs and crabs appear to be more plentiful, or we just got lucky. We docked our boat at the port docks, avoiding the public boat ramp congestion.
Having more free time, I had the opportunity to talk with fishermen returning from fishing in Alaska. They said fish numbers were spotty and some fish were no-shows in their old fishing grounds. I asked these fishermen what happened to the starfish. Two years ago starfish were everywhere on bulkheads and pilings. Today you cannot find one stuck to any structure or rocks. The fisherman replied they had not noticed the disappearance of starfish until I mentioned it. They had very startled looks on their faces. How can a simple life form just disappear unnoticed?
Fish numbers decrease – what next will die? Oysters and shellfish? Dead seagulls are everywhere. Going into the Semiahmoo fuel dock I saw a dead seagull on the end of the dock.
Has our saltwater turned too toxic to support life? I miss seeing all the different colored starfish during low tides clinging to structures. Should more people be paying attention to what is happening? How fragile is human life?
Freedom Foundation, located in Olympia, works diligently to shine a light on special interest negotiating behind closed doors. Sometimes these dealings have no function but to finance electing or re-electing certain politicians. Sadly, such negotiations often include our governor, Jay Inslee, who promised during his first campaign for governor that he would not raise taxes. He might as well not give us any more financial promises, because he’s broken every one he has made.
According to House and Senate operating budgets, Washington state has over $3 billion more in tax revenue for 2015-17 than during the last budget cycle – over a 9 percent increase, yet his desire for more of our “earned income” is insatiable. In early August, Governor Inslee commented in an interview on KIRO’s Dori Monson’s radio show, “We’re going to look for economic growth that will hopefully solve our problems like it did this year. But we have another several billion dollars we have to figure out how to generate.” Sounds like more tax hike proposals are coming our way.
Washington taxpayers are not ATM machines, and as has been said before, we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. “Enough” is not part of his vocabulary.
Terry L. Cox
County council candidate Todd Donovan displays all the experience and attributes required to best serve our community. I have seen him show commitment to moving forward on key issues that affect all of us in the community, such as stimulating the local economy.
He has been given support by many organizations and individuals who share my values, such as the local firefighters. On the Charter Review Commission, Todd showed himself to be a reasonable and pragmatic commissioner, trying to find solutions that would benefit all of Whatcom County. I’m excited to see Todd put his expertise to work on the council and this election is definitely not one to sit out.