This is in response to an error of fact submitted by a letter writer in the July 26 issue, who stated that the proposed coal terminal would be shipping anthracite coal. Coal from the Powder River Basin is sub-bituminous, a softer and dustier grade that also has an unfortunate propensity for spontaneous combustion. You can confirm this at the U. of Wyoming website, www.wsgs.
uwyo.edu. This is the same coal that is currently being shipped from the Roberts Bank terminal and causing many dust problems in the surrounding area. In April of this year, the Delta Optimist ran a photo, which can be found on the web, of an enormous coal dust storm at that location. The proposed coal pile at Cherry Point, which would be uncovered, would be much larger than the one at Roberts Bank and would be situated very near to an oil refinery.
For anyone who has any questions or concerns about the potential impacts of such a coal pile to the water, shorelines and wildlife of our area or to the safety, economy and property values of Birch Bay and Point Whitehorn, I encourage you to participate in the upcoming scoping process for the Environmental Impact Assessment, which is part of the county permit process for the terminal. This process determines what matters will be investigated in the EIA, and we all will be given an opportunity to submit our questions and concerns for consideration. The more people ask the same question, the greater likelihood that question will be included in the study, so your voice counts!
The Alternative Humane Society (AHS) would like to send a big thank you to Pam and her hard working crew at Dakota Creek Golf and Country for hosting the first Divots for Dogs Fun Night on August 22. As AHS is funded solely by donation, this successful event allows us to continue our work of improving the lives of Whatcom County dogs and cats and helping them find permanent loving homes. Some of the proceeds will be used to assist local residents pay to spay/neuter their pets.
For those of you who missed the fun, Divots for the Dogs will be an annual event so keep your clubs polished and your eyes on our website: alternativehumanesociety.com
. Donations may also be made through our website if you would like to help the animals of Whatcom County.
Clare Nurre, AHS volunteer
The pirates and sailors have sailed away and will return the next Drayton Harbor Day!
Blaine Chamber of Commerce wishes to thank the sponsors and supporters of this great family event, including the Port of Bellingham, Drayton Harbor Maritime, NW Park & Recreation, Sterling Savings Bank, A-1 Gutter, Totally Chocolate, Let’s Move Blaine! West Marine, Paso Del Norte, Birch Bay Waterslides, The Northern Light and Pedal & Paddle Rentals.
A special thanks to the city public works crew, our great volunteers and all pirates large and small.
Blaine Chamber of Commerce
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of working for a day at the Boys & Girls Club food booth at the fair in Lynden. While the experience was fun, I was shocked with what I saw as I walked around the fair. What I have heard about the “obesity epidemic” in America was horrifyingly on display, both at our concession and throughout the grounds. I was particularly saddened to see grossly overweight children, in the company of their portly parents, stuffing themselves on a selection of generally very unhealthy foods. Honesty forces me to admit that our booth was not helping matters by serving items such as corndogs and curly fries, but we have resolved to offer healthy fare both at the Boys & Girls Club and in the community in the future.
With the opening of school Wednesday, this is a wonderful time for every family in our community to take a look at themselves and reevaluate their eating and exercise habits. Resolve to pack healthy lunches for your children and to eliminate junk food from their snacks and meals. Get everyone off the couch and get involved in one or more of the many community, school and team recreational and sports activities offered here in Blaine and Birch Bay. Obesity and laziness go hand in hand, and the results can be devastating for children to say nothing of their parents. The good news is that, through proper diet and exercise, obesity can be prevented or reversed. Pledge that this will be the year when you and your family get moving and eat healthy.
The Major Project Permit and Shoreline Substantial Development Permits for the Gateway Pacific Terminal can be viewed online (whatcomcounty.us/pds/plan/current/gpt-ssa/pdf/20120319-permit-submittal.pdf
). On page 52 of Section 4, it states that there will be four stages of construction, beginning in 2014 and ending in 2026. At the completion of Phase 1 in 2016, 89 workers will be employed full time at the terminal. By 2026 this number will jump to 213. For the first 10 years of the terminal, the goal is to ship 54 million tons of only coal, coke, and/or potash to Asia for burning.
After 10 years, what will Whatcom County have to show for accommodating the largest coal-shipping terminal in North America? Construction will be long over, with jobs at the terminal peaking out and perhaps declining. We will have sanctioned pollution and adverse chemical changes in our waters, wildlife, air and in our rich, agricultural soils. We will most certainly have jeopardized the tourist and fishing industries irrevocably. These and other changes will last for many, many years, a legacy with no returns for our children and theirs.
Building the Gateway Pacific Terminal is a choice for us in Whatcom County. It will be permanent and irreversible. For a brief time beginning very soon, scoping for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) begins. Each of us can make a choice, and each of us has the power to influence the ultimate decision of the Whatcom County Council by submitting letters that request that our individual concerns be studied in depth. We can support the terminal and the relatively few full-time jobs that won’t begin until 2016, substantially adding to growing environmental problems caused from burning fossil fuels; or we can oppose this project and support the types of industries and jobs that promise to enhance our community and build upon our growing reputation for clean energy and sustainable jobs with a future.
The need is great. The need is now. Are the communities of Birch Bay, Blaine, and Custer up for a challenge? Blaine Food Bank (BFB) has an incredible opportunity. If BFB raises $25,000 by December 15, a local resident generously promised to match community donations up to this amount. Whether you are a business, a family or an individual, please help us reach this goal.
Businesses can challenge each other (Nature’s Path vs. Totally Chocolate anyone?). Families can throw block parties to encourage friendly competition. Children can dare friends to match their dollar. How many churches do Birch Bay, Blaine and Custer support (youth groups, choirs, women’s auxiliary)? Turn to your neighbor and say, “I’ll donate a dollar if you will too.”
Have you ever gone to sleep hungry, not by choice but because you had no food? Are you a parent who goes without to provide more for your children? Are you a child who goes to school without a breakfast? If so, please tell your friends exactly how important it is to receive milk, eggs and bread from the BFB. Encourage community giving by sharing what being able to rely on the BFB means to you and your family.
Please believe me. Blaine Food Bank needs financial help. Our agency is suffering the same economic setbacks as the rest of our country. Our lines are longer and government support has been cut in half. Point of fact: BFB now serves close to 100 more families a week than this time last year. Times are tough, yes. However, with help from our local businesses, churches and community, BFB will continue to provide help to those residents who are most vulnerable.
So the challenge is issued. Will Birch Bay, Blaine and Custer businesses, local churches and current residents step up? Will you help Blaine Food Bank reach our goal of $25,000 by December 15? Starting September 15, BFB will display a thermometer showing our donors how we are progressing (from a low simmer to a full boil) as we try to reach our $25,000 goal.
“Control is an illusion,” especially when it comes to food resources.
A perfect storm, out of anybody’s control, may be coming together. Increases in fuel prices (to produce fertilizer, drive machinery, process food and deliver farm products), climate changes, extended droughts, changes in patent laws that give companies exclusive rights to seeds and restrict farmers from saving seeds for the future, and the decline of water tables in key growing areas are a sample of what is coming together.
The greater Blaine area is a good place to grow food. No, we do not have 5,000-acre farms, but we do have water, excellent climate, good soil and sufficient local agriculture to feed our own people and then some. (That’s why our Saturday market in downtown Blaine is called a “Gardeners Market,” and not a farmers market.)
In the near future, locally grown food will be much more than a healthy choice. With this in mind, I have several suggestions. First, grow food whenever possible. Second, support your closest local market as both a buyer and a seller of food, and encourage more people who are already producing food on their small farms to sell their products at the local market.
The third and perhaps most important community-building suggestion, especially for people living on small lots, is to become friends and partners with someone in the county within bicycle distance of where you live that has land. Offer to partner with them in the growing, harvesting, and hard work it takes to grow food and maintain a small farm. A partnership where work input leads to increased food output for both of your families. We know from experience this can work. On our 2.5-acre farm, we can produce 25 to 40 percent of our food with the help of volunteers. With consistent help, we can do that for two families.
Control of our food resources may seem like an illusion, but if we take steps now to make our food resources more local, we can take back the control over this most important aspect of our lives.