I want to echo the comments in last week’s paper about the parade. I was talking with my parents, who come down from Canada to watch the parade every year, and they noted that the parade was really long and full of entries that no one wants to watch.
Seriously, who wants to watch a propane truck decorated with some red, white, and blue balloons? Is there any way to filter out some of the parade entries so that it becomes more interesting? I’ve also talked to my neighbors since then and they unanimously agree that something needs to be done.
In GPT’s “Report to the Community,” Volume 2, which was inserted into last week’s The Northern Light, we see a great example of how to “Hollywoodize” the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) and seduce the public while covering up truth. While GPT may, in fact, be advertised as a “state-of-the-art” multi-use terminal it is, in actuality, going to be a coal terminal for the first 10 years or more.
The word “coal” is only mentioned once in these four colored pages, while frequent mention is made to cargo transport for wheat, grain, wood chips, and other possible commodities. Let’s remember that Goldman-Sachs is financing what will be the largest coal shipping terminal in North America and it is Peabody Energy, the largest private-sector coal company in the world, who are behind this project in a effort to recoup dwindling profits in the U.S. market.
No amount of money or seductive words with photos of polished, new equipment will change the fact that coal is a dirty and very dangerous business that creates toxic environments everywhere is it encountered. These photos give the illusion that no one will see or touch a speck of coal in this antiseptically clean terminal. Not one photo shows the uncovered coal trains, each with about 125 cars, traveling more than 1,000 miles from the Powder River Basin through Bellingham to Ferndale, nor do any of them showcase the 80-acre stockyard of .5-mile long, 60-foot high coal piles uncovered in open air 24/7.
Those who care about the truth for our future, our environment and our very lives should look beyond this façade and read and remember the words in chapter four of the Permit Application (Terminal Operation), located on pages 4–53 of the Project Information Document, submitted in March 2012 by Pacific International Terminals (subsidiary created by SSA for building GPT): “It is anticipated that in the first ten years, the Terminal would likely manage exports of low-sulfur, low ash coal, Canadian potash, and locally produced calcined petroleum coke.” (whatcomcounty.us/pds/plan/current/gpt-ssa/pdf/20120319-permit-submittal.pdf)
Recently, I had an opportunity to have dinner with Barry Buchanan, who is running for the county council in the fall. For over an hour, Barry answered questions from a group of 15 or so citizens. His answers to questions on various policy issues, including the unified system of Emergency Medical Services, Growth Management Act compliance and the proposed new jail sound to me eminently reasonable.
More importantly, he is a Whatcom County native with experience in both city and county government, a record of accomplishment and a history of respect for citizens, respectful cooperation and debate with officials elected and appointed, and thoughtful examination of all sides of the issues.
In the course of our conversation, Mr. Buchanan demonstrated his comprehensive understanding of the most controversial issues and his commitment to finding workable, fair solutions for all residents of Whatcom County. My mind is made up – I am voting for Barry Buchanan in this year’s county council election.