Letters to the editor, May 19 – May 25

The Editor:

On May 9, 2016, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers upheld its trust obligation to the Lummi Nation by denying the permit for the Gateway Pacific Terminal project.

The Lummi Nation has demonstrated unfailing resolve to protect its treaty rights secured to the Lummi in 1855, and to protect Xwe’chi’eXen (Cherry Point). Such fortitude exhibited by a great sovereign nation, standing tall.

Lummi Nation’s actions have given and continue to give me faith and strength to fight against dangerous fossil fuel projects proposed in our region, including any resurgence of the GPT project.

Back on February 9, 2015, a Bellingham Herald story reported: “There has been a lot of back-and-forth over the past five weeks among Lummi Nation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Gateway Pacific Terminal as the tribe asserts its fishing rights, in order to stop the coal terminal from being built.”

Technically, one could say, as the Herald did, that the Lummi Nation asserted its treaty fishing rights in order to stop the coal terminal, but a community member sent me an email offering another perspective:

“Knowing there was a treaty against it, a coal terminal insisted on stomping in the middle of treaty-protected fishing grounds, so the coal terminal had to be reminded what it already knew: that it would be breaking the law – the supreme law of the land. It isn’t that the Lummi tried to stop a terminal. It’s that a terminal tried to stop them.”

Sandy Robson

Birch Bay

The Editor:

Howdy, friends and neighbors. On Saturday, May 21, the Blaine Gardener’s Market will start its eighth year of fresh and local foods, products, arts and crafts. The market officially opens at 10 a.m., and vendors can begin setting up as early as 8:30 a.m.

There is a small sliding scale fee based on the size of a vendor’s site, and 100 percent of the money is used to pay for market advertising. Nonprofits and youth vendors running their own site are free. (Nonprofits, please check with Carroll at the Blaine Visitor Center for what is permitted).

In addition, at noon, there will be the running of the 7th Annual International Slug Races, with a special prize for each participant.

For additional information, please contact Ron Snyder at 360/305-8231 or Carroll Solomon at the Blaine Visitor Center, 360/332-4544.

Catherine Taggett


The Editor:

The opinions expressed by Bob Watters and a representative from Northwest Jobs Alliance in last week’s issue of The Northern Light are wrong.

The Lummi People (Lhaq’temish) are not a “special interest group.” They are the original inhabitants of NW Washington, dating back thousands of years. Their original villages were located at the Cherry Point coastline, making this area sacred for them. They are a sovereign society whose culture relies on sustenance fishing in the Salish Sea, and is protected under the 1855 Federal Treaty of Point Elliott.

Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve is a key ecosystem for Washington’s fishing industry in general, providing a unique habitat for late-spawning herring, which are a vital link in the food chain and critical for the salmon industry.

A coal shipping port would have multiple destructive effects on nature’s bounty in the Salish Sea for many reasons, but to deeply understand how and why these waters sustain the Lummi Nation would take much more than counting their fishing boats with aerial surveillance.

To assert that “thousands of families in northwest Washington” were depending on good-paying jobs (from GPT) is a gross exaggeration, since the permit application states that total full-time jobs at build-out would be under 300.

Further, there has been and continues to be overwhelming opposition and involvement from the public. This includes rallies, forums and protests from numerous organizations and cities along the entire shipping route, media coverage and over 24,000 scoping letters submitted from the public, including professionals such as physicians and scientists.

The decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a bold and honest evaluation of a federal treaty, based on law, not politics. I am grateful that we still have those in government who honor the legal rights of minority groups. Otherwise, the schemes of industry would act to bury the history and integrity of a people whose values and lifestyle define the Pacific Northwest.

A Native American quote comes to mind: “When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.”

Christine Westland

Birch Bay

The Editor:

Thanks, above all to Lummi Nation, and also to members of our community who have supported them, the imminent threat of approximately 50 tons of toxic coal being handled and shipped at Cherry Point has been pushed away.

This will greatly relieve potential compromise to the crucial intent and actions put forth by the Cherry Point Environmental Aquatic Reserve Management Plan. The plan, released in 2010 and up for review every 10 years, offers the means for sensitive waters and marine ecosystems at Cherry Point to recover from past damage and pollution, and to once again become a thriving and resilient attribute to our beautiful and rich way of life in Whatcom County.

Meanwhile, our county’s review of our comprehensive plan is ongoing, and it’s a good time to tell your county council representatives that you want a safer and less oppressive future for our industrial workforce. At a comprehensive plan public hearing I heard workers speak of the extreme care they take at fossil fuel product facilities to maintain a safe work environment and safeguard the surrounding community.
We know that despite their earnest efforts, leaks and explosions do occur.

Now that we have crude oil trains running through our local area, we must remember that rail and refinery workers have no ability to avoid the 1-mile USDOT potential impact zone in case of oil train fire/explosion. Laborers are daily smack in the middle of that zone.

We must demand a prompt transition to jobs that offer less severe responsibilities and hazards for workers and that offer enhancement and enrichment to the planet that feeds us.

Dena Jensen

Birch Bay

The Editor:

I thoroughly enjoy reading your paper. However, I was very disappointed with your coverage of the Trump rally in Lynden.

Thousands of supporters were there and yet the entire article seemed to be about the protesters. They were virtually nonexistent compared with the number of Trump supporters.

I understand if your reporter is anti-Trump, but he should at least report the facts correctly and without his personal slant. It’s bad enough that the Bellingham Herald is overwhelmingly biased toward the left. I didn’t expect that of your paper.

Rosemary Anker


The Editor:

I thought your article on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision regarding the proposed coal export terminal was lacking in balance and good perspective.

It may be best to give pause to press releases from giant corporations. Mr. Watters is astonished? Hasn’t he been following the real news on this process? Mr. Watters’ complaint is a real complaint as opposed to the request the Lummi Nation made to the Corps, which was not a complaint.

Mr. Watters’ complaint is that the decision was political. That word has the sound of something partisan. The decision of the Corps was based on the highest law of the land (Article 6, U.S. Constitution).

After we hear and understand all sides and all the real news on this coal terminal matter, let’s get on with letting go of fossil fuels, and finding appropriate locations for green job development.

Ellen Murphy


The Editor:

On Saturday, May 14, members of the United States Power Squadrons held the annual Marine Distress Flare Practice in Blaine Marine Park. I would like to thank all 70 people who took part, as well as our safety monitors and instructors and especially the city of Blaine for permission to use the park.

We were joined by Jon Ahrenholz and his crew of firefighters from the North Whatcom Fire and Rescue Service who gave excellent practical instruction in the use of fire extinguishers.

The staff at the Water Treatment Plant very kindly provided access to their water supply for safety purposes. Kathryn Wellington of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary was giving instruction on Confidence in Boating at the Blaine Marina Conference Center and brought her entire class of 30 women to take part in the event.

This annual event is a wonderful hands-on learning experience for all boaters, experienced and new, and we appreciate all those behind the scenes who made it happen.

Graham Hunter

United States Power Squadrons, Bellingham

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