Letters to the Editor -- March 29, 2007

Published on Thu, Mar 29, 2007
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Letters to the Editor

The Editor:
Peace Arch City, Washington is non descriptive. Blaine refers to a vice president in the late 1800s. I suggest a change for a new city name that has the Peace Arch or bay name in it.
Harold Schneider
Blaine

The Editor:
I read Mr. Hill’s letter in The Northern Light March 22-28 issue and I’ve got to admit he sounds articulate, but, other than that, all I can do is wonder just which planet he lives on. We all know he does not live in Blaine.
Hill is outspoken in his opposition to the airport, but I’ve yet to hear one good reason from him for doing away with our community’s valuable and viable asset. All I’ve ever really heard from his side are personal attacks – it’s a rich man’s toy – and excuses – there’s another airport just 20 minutes down the road, a facility that will ultimately profit at Blaine’s expense if Hill gets his way.
I fully understand the mayor’s fiduciary responsibility. Mr. Hill doesn’t. It is the mayor’s responsibility to act in the best interests of the people who live here. Mr. Hill’s fiduciary responsibility is to act in his own best interests.
Hill says there’s an overwhelming majority of citizens in Blaine that want the airport closed. The opposite is true. Blaine has voted three times to retain its airport and there’s no reason to think this has changed if the question is looked at honestly and without emotional grandstanding by outsiders telling Blaine people how to vote. I believe Blaine will continue to support this community asset that once lost will never come back.
I believe it’s up to me, and those who support Blaine making its own decisions without outside interference, to educate the public as to how this can be accomplished so decisions can be as thoughtful and transparently honest as possible. This includes showing how invalid Mr. Hill’s position is, and sticking to the issue without the gratuitous personal attacks.
Our airport is a valuable and vital part of our infrastructure. It’s on the state’s NPIAS list – which means the state agrees. Our airport can and will continue to serve the community. Remember, Totally Chocolate and A&A Customs Brokers, the two biggest businesses that are located nearby (and together employ nearly 200 people), moved in because of the airport. Little else has developed, despite Hill’s predictions that closing it will somehow make that happen. The citizens of Blaine should view Hill and his cohorts with more skepticism.
Mike Myers
Blaine

The Editor:
First I want to thank those who attended the recent meeting or who have conveyed their concerns regarding this plan. The OSS inspection/evaluation schedule (every three years for gravity systems and every year for all others) is a requirement from the State of Washington (WAC 246-272A-0270). Who does the evaluations is where we may have some flexibility.
I contacted the county executive’s office to request some time to work with the health department regarding the specific part of the OSS regulations that deal with the inspection/evaluation schedule. Executive Kremen has graciously allowed health department staff to work with me on the issue of who does the evaluations of septic systems.
I brought a proposal to the meeting with the health department staff last Friday. I proposed that the county set up a homeowners’ class to allow homeowners to learn how to do evaluations of their systems. Once the homeowners are certified they would be able to do their own evaluations for five years in a row. On the sixth year they would hire a licensed Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Specialist, preferably the same person who comes out to inspect/pump their tanks.
By the time this rule kicks in there should have been enough time for those who apply to become licensed O&M specialists to have completed the course provided by the health department. I believe many of them will also be pumpers. Remember the whole process will take a number of years to get set up.
One of the first items, even before the classes, would be for the county to complete an evaluation of the systems that currently exist. I also propose that, during the initial evaluation process, homeowners who can provide documentation that their tanks have been inspected/pumped within the last three years of the initial evaluation period should be considered as current.
Finishing up a county-wide evaluation of current systems will also probably take a number of years. So it may be five or six years before the inspection schedule requirements even take effect.
Health department staff said they will come back with a draft of my proposals in the context of the state requirements within a week. At that time I will send a copy of the draft to everyone on the e-mail list and contact those who have indicated interest but don’t have e-mail.
I am interested in feedback because doing nothing is not an option. The schedule is a state mandate. I am interested in making it the least onerous as possible while keeping it effective and legal. Also I am only one council member. A number of other council members may be interested in some changes to the inspection/evaluation schedule but I don’t know for sure.
I believe there are many people who take responsible care with their septic systems. There are also those who don’t, either out of lack of knowledge or for other reasons. I do not wish to insult those who do know how to care for their systems but I believe that septic system failures can create public health issues off of an individual’s property. My rights end if they can negatively impact others.
Also, for the gentleman who was concerned that the council has been working on the regulation without any expert advice, our health department provides us our expert advice.
If you are interested in knowing the qualifications of the particular staff persons, you can contact the executive’s office. Also there was a sub committee formed that included persons in the OSS industry. The executive’s office also has that information. However, I believe we can still improve the regulation and keep it effective without violating the state law.
I look forward to striking a better balance with this regulation. With your assistance I think we can make it more effective and reasonable. Thank you for your patience.
You can e-mail me at bbrenner@co.whatcom.wa.us or bbgun1010@aol.com or you can call me at 384-2762.
Barbara Brenner,
Whatcom County Council
Member

The Editor:
I read Dennis Hill’s letter in your March 22-28 edition. What I thought of it and Mr. Hill’s motives for writing it can best be described in terms that approach, if not embrace, the scatological.
I’m in favor of keeping the airport open, but any efforts I have made in this direction have been blunted by the fact that I’m not a resident of Blaine.
Many other airport supporters are in the same boat. We recognize the value of the airport to the community, to Whatcom County, and to the state of Washington.
We also recognize that Blaine will be judged by its stewardship of the airport and other assets to the county and the state. The only bright spot is that our tax dollars will not go to subsidizing litigation and other costs of closing the airport.
There’s another thing that the supporters of the airport have in common. Through all of this mess, we’ve behaved as civilized people with a respect for the institutions that we’ve pleaded our case to.
If Mr. Hill is an example of how one goes about getting what one wants from local government, we’ve been going about it all wrong. We haven’t been disruptive at council meetings repeatedly and haven’t used filthy language when addressing the council.
Now Mr. Hill thinks that Blaine’s mayor should be removed because the mayor’s behavior doesn’t meet his standards. Mr. Hill mentions that there are council members that he considers “good.” I’m wondering what criteria Mr. Hill is applying to judge these members “good.” In Louisiana, there’s a running joke that goes: “We have the best politicians that money can buy.” Could this be what he’s talking about?
That Mr. Hill is in any position to make disparaging comments about Blaine’s mayor – a gentleman whose military and civilian careers have been exemplary – I find ludicrous. In my estimation, Mr. Hill is not now, nor will he ever be the man that Mike Myers is.
Bob Aiken
Blaine

The Editor:
The article regarding the BP co-generation plant hearing had misleading statements and failed to inform citizens of all the facts and the possible impacts to their health and our watershed from additional pollution.
The sentence about eliminating one of the gas-fired turbines is misleading – it easily leads the readers to conclude that the changes will produce less pollution. BP’s proposed change will produce more of some types of pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The change to natural gas will produce more by-products of sulfur dioxide and sulfuric acid mist.
The statement about greenhouse gas is also misleading. While coal powered co-generation plants can produce significantly more CO, the proposed BP plant will have a reduction of only a ton of 158 tons of CO by eliminating one turbine.
Why does BP need a Prevention of Significant Deterioration permit? Because they will be emitting a projected 216 tons per year (tpy) of NOx, 257 tpy of CO, 56.2 tpy of VOC, 51 tpy of SO2, 30 tpy of H2SO4, and 254 tpy of particulate matter, in addition to what the oil refinery is already emitting into our environment. A large portion of the particulate matter is less than 2.5 micrograms, which is so small that human lungs cannot filter it out of the body so it is absorbed into the body. The people who will be most at risk for health problems from this are children, the elderly, and those with respiratory conditions.
The term, prevention of significant deterioration, is rather misleading itself. The NAAQS determined that our area was “unclassified”. Unclassified means that our air is assumed to be in “attainment” or okay. Since our air is clean, polluters are free to pollute our air with lots of pollutants. This pollution affects all of us and I hope that some people will show up at the hearing on April 3. Environment Canada was opposed to the co-generation plant. So, if Canada has concerns about the additional pollution, so should the citizens of Birch Bay and Blaine.
Cathy Cleveland
Birch Bay

Letters Policy
The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank-you letters should be limited to 10 names. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.

Please send your letter to:
225 Marine Drive, Blaine, WA 98230 or fax 360/332-2777.
E-mail:editor@thenorthernlight.com

Letters Policy

The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank you letters are limited to five individuals or groups. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.

Please email letters to letters@thenorthernlight.com