Letters to the editor, November 19- November 25

The Editor:

The Blaine school district’s family service center serves low income and homeless families and students who attend Blaine school district schools. Our goal is to reduce barriers that students and families may be experiencing so that each student is at school ready to learn. We solely depend on donations from our amazing school district community to provide these products and services.

The family service center’s direct services include providing hygiene and household products such as toilet paper, deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, laundry detergent, dish detergent, paper towels, household cleaners and personal hygiene products. In addition to distributing these products, the center also provides school supplies, gently used clothing, bus tokens, planners/ASB cards and other emergency needs, as well as providing many resource referrals to outside agencies.

The family service center is in need of hygiene and household products as well as financial support to offer these services and items. Those who wish to make a donation of supplies may do so at the Blaine school district office, 765 H Street, Monday–Friday. Drop off monetary donations at the district office or mail to: Blaine school district family service center; Attn: Jessie Burton; 765 H Street, Blaine, WA 98230. All donations are tax deductible. If you have any questions please call the family service center at 332-0740 or email jburton@blainesd.org.

Thank you so much for your consideration and for continually being an amazing community that supports those in need!

Jessie Burton


The Editor:

The Whatcom County Public Works “Adopt-a-Roadway” program is a wonderful way for businesses, organizations, churches, neighborhoods and families to advertise their identity.

Adopt at least a 1-mile stretch of highway, clean that roadway at least twice a year, and the county (for free) will put up two signs giving you credit for maintaining that stretch of roadway.

They will loan you all the tools, bags and safety equipment you will need. An added benefit to the free signage is that our beautiful communities will be cleaner and more attractive for us, our neighbors and visitors.

Here is a scary statistic that we want to share with everyone. In the spring when we cleaned our street, we filled 16 bags with trash, and four full bags were cans and bottles from beer. This past fall, there were six bags of trash and two of them were filled with beer cans and bottles.

What’s scary about this statistic is that so many people are drinking and driving on our highways. I wonder if all the people who are “booze cruising” and tossing their trash out the window have given any thought to how far technology has advanced. Every one of those cans and bottles has your fingerprints on them, and a saliva sample. Perhaps it’s time to keep your trash to yourself and deposit it in your trash can, or better yet, please don’t drink and drive.

For more information, please call 360/676-6759, and ask for Andrew Elarth at Whatcom County Public Works.

Morton Hersh


The Editor:

For the first time ever, the son of a former Canadian Prime Minister became Canada’s new Prime Minister. Justin Trudeau, age 43, swept to power and formed a majority government – the Liberal Party of Canada. The liberal message was “time for a change.” And a change it was: The same day the cabinet was sworn in, they went to work. The election promises are already taking place. Beefing up the Coast Guard; full representation at the World Environmental Conference in Paris next month; confirmation of the signing of the new Trans-Pacific Free Trade Pact (which the U.S. has also signed); and another first time for Canada – gender parity in the cabinet: 15 women and 15 men. The election time from start to finish was just 11 weeks. How is that for parliamentary democracy?

Jay James

Birch Bay

The Editor:

Americans live in a pollution-based economy, dependent upon subsidized fossil fuel industries. Many such industries knew long ago that continuously burning fossil fuels would trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere and oceans. But, like the tobacco industry, they covered up the truth. Now, independent investigation has revealed that Exxon, the most profitable industry in history, had conducted their own research decades ago, and knew that refining and burning crude oil would pour huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, causing it to gradually warm. Nevertheless, they continued to exploit oil.

It seems we are at the mercy of large corporations, which have achieved the status of personhood, but do not pay their fair share of taxes, while CEOs take obscenely huge bonuses. Wealth inequality is the United States is widely known. The richest 1 percent of the population now own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent, as quoted by the New York Times. The result is a government influenced by the 1 percent, enabling them to buy politicians who support their plans, a dynamic resembling an oligarchy. Most people continue to ignore or deny the reality of global warming, while witnessing the misuse of vital resources and continue to sanction industries that poison the environment while processing toxic fossil fuels.

I believe that wealth (i.e., power) is not limited to money. Power can be generated by the 80 percent; one by one we can do small things that add up to huge results. We can change the paradigm of the Industrial Age: rampant consumerism, thoughtless waste, making luxury our “god” at the expense of using up finite resources. Right now you can begin to change the way you spend or invest, by not choosing products that use fossil fuels or their toxic byproducts, but rather ones that do not add to pollution. If we want a livable planet for our children and following generations, it is imperative we accelerate efforts to replace the use of fossil fuels with sustainable alternatives, using wind, waves, solar and geothermal heat and other natural sources for energy needs. Millions of new jobs can be created if we change our thinking and unite behind this cause.

Christine Westland


The Editor:

Supporters of the proposed GPT coal port have made numerous claims regarding the alleged number of jobs, but they fail to mention the nature of those proposed jobs or the associated work environment.

According to the GPT project application, each coal car arriving at the terminal would be disconnected, picked up and inverted, allowing all of its coal to be conveyed to 110-foot-tall “stacker-reclaimers” and dumped (through open-air) onto 80 acres of 60-foot-tall uncovered coal stockpiles. Stated differently, every 2.5 hours (24/7) the toxic contents of an entire 1.5-mile-long coal train would literally fall through open air above on-site employees. Simultaneously, another one or two stacker-reclaimers would be clawing into other coal stockpiles, loading coal onto conveyors to the shipping wharf where it would be dumped onto bulk-cargo ships.

The official project proposal document also indicates that as much as 5.33 million gallons of Nooksack River water per day would be needed to reduce (not eliminate) the potential for internal combustion in the coal stockpiles and to reduce dust accumulation at the job-site. Meanwhile, 45 diesel locomotives (required for the nine coal trains everyday) and three bulk-cargo vessels’ diesel engines would be continuously idling, emitting toxic diesel particulates, while they wait for coal to be off-loaded onto stockpiles and on-loaded onto vessels.

I believe that the proposed jobs associated with moving massive amounts of coal surrounded by idling diesel engine emissions pose potentially harmful and toxic conditions for any on-site workers. According to more than 200 local Whatcom and Skagit County physicians, the airborne toxins contained in coal dust and in diesel emissions pose serious adverse health effects. And, that for diesel emission particulates, there is no safe level of exposure.

As we gather with family and friends this Thanksgiving Day, we can be thankful for our current abundance of fresh air, clean water and beautiful environment. Let’s do what we can to protect our family and our community’s health and safety.

Michael Crum

Birch Bay

The Editor:

I read a couple of letters from readers about the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal in the November 12 issue of The Northern Light. I can’t believe that anyone in Whatcom County is opposed to industry that provides jobs. Of course jobs matter! Properly planned and managed industrial/business growth is vital to our county’s prosperity and survival.

But the problem with this terminal lies with the overriding negative environmental impact it poses. The one simple threat and the main reason this project should never come to fruition is that the terminal would be used to ship coal overseas, mainly to China. Coal is a filthy source of fuel. The Chinese burn far too much, sending millions of pounds of carbon emissions into the air. (Yes, the U.S. also has some industry that burns coal. It needs to stop.) And just where do those emissions from China travel? They follow the jet stream and head right back to the west coast of the United States and points beyond.

Use your heads. The limited jobs that the Gateway Pacific Terminal would provide today lead to a harmful tomorrow. Let’s concentrate efforts on making Whatcom County a welcoming place for sensible business and industry.

Nancy Grigsby

Birch Bay

The Editor:

With the election behind us, letters to the editor in The Northern Light have once again turned to the proposed coal port. Proponents trumpet the need for jobs, while opponents note the inevitable damage to the environment, both air and water.

Opponents are right: it will do significant damage to the water and the air. Let’s face it: the beautiful natural environment is why people want to live and visit here. Damaging it will cause people – especially retirees – to leave the area, driving down housing values and reducing economic opportunity in the county. The possibility of contracting a lung disease is not an attraction for permanent residents or tourists.

It is also a tenuous business proposal. It does not make sense to build a single-use port for a commodity that is both going out of favor worldwide and is one of the more toxic materials (in the form of coal dust) known to man. Make no mistake: the dust will be in the air, and people will get sick.

The local economy is not so weak as to justify this risky investment. Proponents of the port understate the health of the local economy and overstate the jobs that will result from the port.

1. Whatcom County’s current unemployment rate of 5.4 percent is below the median rate for the state’s counties. Only the Seattle area has a meaningfully stronger economy in the state of Washington.

2. The estimate for permanent new jobs – not jobs during construction – has varied but I have seen a credible estimate at approximately 40. The county does not need that few jobs that badly.

Who, then, would be the winners from this project? Those who want to ship the coal, of course. That would probably be the Koch brothers and others like them. They will get richer, while the residents of Whatcom County pay the price.

Wrong idea, wrong time, wrong place. Please oppose the proposed coal port.

Richard Thatcher


The Editor:

Recently released documents reveal that the world’s largest fossil fuel corporations have known for decades that burning fossil fuels causes climate change and, if unchecked, eventually will make the Earth uninhabitable. In 1977 Exxon’s top executives were told by their own research scientists that climate change was real, caused by burning fossil fuels and that quick action was needed because there was only “a time window of five to 10 years before the need for hard decisions in energy strategies might become critical.” Instead of solving the climate change problem while it would have been relatively easy, fossil fuel corporations began spending millions of dollars to deny climate change, to make the public doubt climate change and to block government action to limit climate change.

Last week Peabody Energy, the nation’s biggest coal corporation and coal supplier for the proposed GPT coal export terminal, agreed to a legal settlement requiring it to reveal the damage it is doing to our planet and the risks it creates for both the public and shareholders. Coal is the worst of all fossil fuels and an economic loser – it’s being replaced by cleaner-burning natural gas. Peabody Energy has lost 90 percent of its value in the last year. Peabody Energy presently is trying to ditch its agreed-upon obligation to pay for retired coal miners’ healthcare. People oppose the GPT coal export terminal proposal because we cannot build a healthy prosperous future based upon polluting, unscrupulous, economic loser corporations.

Precious decades have been lost but by acting now we can limit climate change and pass on to our children and theirs a livable planet. Scientists, economists and business leaders already know what needs to be done to build a better future but legislators who deny climate change are blocking them.

Presently more than 457 companies in Washington state and 37 in Whatcom County are active in industrial sectors that could create thousands of new jobs by supplying component parts for clean energy manufacturing. Coal’s time has passed. Now is the time for us to begin building our clean energy future.

Paula Rotundi


The Editor:

The Lummi people have taken a strong stand against efforts to turn Cherry Point into a shipping terminal for coal. We should acknowledge and support their decision to maintain our local waters for fishing, for clean water and air for everyone and for sustaining the environment.

Did you know that the Lummi Youth Canoe Family have been invited to Paris in December for the talks on climate change? There they will join other activists speaking out about the implications of global warming.

We can support the Lummis in this effort while also promoting a better world. Make a pledge on gofundme.com, type in Lummi Youth Canoe Family and help make their trip possible.

Naomi Murphy



The Editor:

I have not been able to listen or watch the “pig slaughterhouse video.” I know what is coming and it isn’t Charlottes’ Web.

In the 2015 Legislative Session, Representative Vincent Buy sponsored HB 1104, a bill that made it illegal to record farm practices without the farmer’s, or in this case Hormel’s, permission. I doubt Hormel wants you to see how this little piggy went to market. HB 1104 did not make it out of committee.

Buys’ legislative term ends January 3, 2017. I hope 42nd legislative district voters will elect someone who supports humane agricultural practices.

Grace Cisneros


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