On April 2 the Sierra Club and other environmental allies sent a notice of intent to sue letter to Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and several coal companies for violations of the federal Clean Water Act, alleging the companies are responsible for emitting coal into waterways across Washington. I’m thankful these organizations are trying to protect us from companies that continue to ship and carry coal on the railways, emitting coal and coal dust into nearby streams and waterways during transport.
The Surface Transportation Board’s (STB) 2011 hearing regarding BNSF’s request to authorize a coal dust tariff on coal shippers who then petitioned the STB about the tariff’s legality makes it clear that coal dust escaping from BNSF’s coal train cars is a major problem.
The STB stated, “Moreover, to the extent that coal dust poses a risk of harm to the environment, containment is the only way to protect the environment and communities along the right of way. Maintenance only addresses the harm to the ballast and does nothing to address the harms to neighboring streams, people and communities. Furthermore, some coal dust removed in the rail bed maintenance process may also find its way back into the environment, either nearby or at disposal sites.”
The STB says coal dust harms the environment and needs to be addressed, but so far, the STB has not forced the railroads and coal shippers to do so. Hopefully this lawsuit will be a catalyst to force BNSF and coal companies to ensure the coal and coal dust remains in loaded train cars. The STB also said coal dust is a pernicious ballast foulant [sic] and contributes to derailments. There have been 10 coal train derailments in the U.S. since February 2013, and 43 coal train derailments since 2010. There will be many more if Gateway Pacific Terminal and other proposed Washington and Oregon coal terminals are built.
Please write the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and our senators and representatives to demand that the Corps and environmental impact survey (EIS) agencies involved in the coal terminal proposals conduct a full area-wide environmental impact statement or a programmatic EIS.
When I first heard of the local slaughterhouse proposal, I was inclined to support anything with a locally grown theme. Researching a little deeper, I discovered that just one facility would suffice for Whatcom County and yet the wholesale rezoning of 88,000 acres of agricultural lands is being proposed. It seems right and good to figure out our needs first and then to plan appropriately.
Zoning provides essential security for property owners and it is government’s role to provide that zoning. I trust the county council will consider this carefully.
Local processing of animals can also be done with mobile units. We need to be very careful of polluting our water and so perhaps another rural industrial management zone would be a much better solution. Let’s be careful. This is our future and our food.
Mary H. Mele
The Pacific Arts Association heartily thanks the community for a very successful Speakeasy concert, dance and auction. The attendees sported classy outfits from the period and enjoyed the appetizers, music and dancing. They also joined in active bidding as auctioneers Gary Tomsic and Mike Kent led the way.
Popular auction items included a bouncy house party package from Pacific Building Center, a double magnum of Dakota Creek Winery’s Firefighter Red, a handcrafted knife, theatre tickets and many fine local restaurant certificates.
Thank you to all who donated the wide variety of items, everything from gift baskets and art to fitness and butler service. Thank you to all who bid, and also those who gave Blaine Jazz Camp scholarships. Thank you to our Speakeasy sponsor, Alcoa: Intalco Works.
All night we heard, “You have to do this again next year!” The evening was a huge success and the $9,000 profit will benefit the Blaine Jazz Camp and Festival.
Kristi Galbraith, executive director
Pacific Arts Association
I am writing to express my appreciation for the recent Blaine elementary Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds event funded by Whatcom Community Foundation. Those who attended enjoyed a delicious fresh meal of Tuscan kale soup provided and prepared by local
community partners and drinks provided by Talking Rain.
The strength of our school’s sense of community really shows when you see faculty like Craig Baldwin, Glen Tusky and Linda Thompson put in a 12-hour day to help put on the event. Dan Persse and the Northern Meadows 4H crew set up a challenging obstacle course while Blaine teachers Michelle Schulz and Becky Groves facilitated family math stations.
The Food Sense smoothie station was very popular along with Hope Heart Institute’s hands-on heart and circulatory system activities. The booths for NWPRD2, Girls on the Run, EverybodyBIKE, Whatcom Fitness and Let’s Move Blaine inspired families to think about local opportunities for family fitness.
After visiting booths with WSU Master Gardeners, Jordan Creek Farm and Acme Farms & Kitchen and Whatcom Farm 2 School, families felt that they were more likely to start a garden at home, visit farmers markets with more frequency and participate in the Harvest of the Month program connected to school lunches.
The event wrapped up with a drawing that included such prizes as fresh produce, plants, T-shirts, smoothie ingredients and a free month membership to Whatcom Fitness. The kids went home with a bag full of resources, recipes and a cookie from Erin Baker’s. The next Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds event will be Wednesday, May 29, so be sure to take a night off from cooking and join the fun.
I would like to express a special note of thanks to Dan Persse who is the driving force and Laurie Sween who is the guiding light behind the Let’s Move Blaine organization and their board that makes events like this possible.
Thank you to the Blaine community for donating your ‘junk’ so others could find their ‘treasure!’ The annual garage sale on Saturday at the senior center was able to raise approximately $2,500 due to your generous donations as well as the people who shopped.
Thanks also to the countless volunteers (too numerous to mention) who worked so hard during the week prior to the sale and on the day of the sale. Thanks to the capable and efficient staff at the center (Dana, Nancy and Sheila) who made our job so much easier.
The Blaine Senior and Community Center is a vital part of our community and these funds are so important for its continued operation. If you are a senior (50 or older) and haven’t yet checked out the endless opportunities available (classes, trips, volunteer jobs and etc.) at the center, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Again, thanks for helping to make our sale a success.
Ruth McBride &
Thank you to everyone who has signed our save the train station petition in various stores in town and on our website, keep them coming. We are trying to get 10,000 signatures within the next month or so.
You can also sign our online petition and read all the news about this great project at blaine
Businesses that I haven’t been able to get to, if you can help by having a copy on your counter and asking your customers to sign, it would really help. We all need to do our part for something so important.
Thanks to all the businesses that are asking their customers to sign. For those that would like to see which businesses they can visit to sign the petition, go online to our website.
Tell your friends and family, Canadians and any other nationalities are also most welcome to sign, it’s an informal survey, something to hand to Washington State Department of Transportation to show how much we want to see our historic depot restored and have it serve as a busy Amtrak stop, serving the local community as well as almost a million folks north of the border and south of Fraser River.
This project is a good news story for Blaine and the entire surrounding area. There is no downside to this project.
Please visit these businesses and sign our petition or go online. Imagine being able to catch Amtrak right here at the restored historic 1908 Blaine train depot. It’s a real possibility with your help!