Letters to the editor: August 1 - 7, 2013

Published on Wed, Jul 31, 2013
Read More Letters to the Editor

The Editor:
The GPT Terminal permit includes the use of 5.3 million gallons of water a day from the Nooksack River. That can’t be good for Ferndale, salmon runs, Lynden farms or the Lummis. Water will be sprayed on the six-story-high piles of coal, carrying carcinogens into the ground and the water of Cherry Point. The herring beds at Cherry Point will most certainly die – salmon and other marine life dependent on the herring will not be fed. Loss of Nooksack salmon will endanger the Whatcom County fishing industry and related jobs for about 2,700 people. That includes commercial fishing, boat repair, boat builders, suppliers, shippers, freezer plants, marine sales and sport fisheries.
Currently, there are three full and three empty coal trains a day to and from Canada on the waterfront tracks. GPT will add nine additional mile-long trainloads of coal daily and nine empties returning. That number will make it difficult to get to the waterfront or, for those who live near the water and tracks, get any sleep. Add to that a couple of oil trains each for Phillips and BP and you have a count of 25 mile-long trains, empty and full, every day. That number of trains would probably kill waterfront redevelopment and ruin the commercial and residential property values.
Twenty-five trains, each over a mile long, will block traffic at train crossings once an hour. We would need to build overpasses or underpasses all along the route at intersections in Spokane, Vancouver, Longview, Kelso, Tacoma, Seattle, Everett, Stanwood, Mount Vernon, Bellingham and Ferndale and Blaine. GPT and Burlington Northern are not responsible for that. They will pay some taxes but nowhere near enough to cover the cost of the necessary infrastructure. We, the taxpayers, will get stuck with the bill.
The tourists won’t want to come and play in dead beaches, and that is another 5,000 or so tourism/hospitality jobs we stand to lose. Those of us who live here will lose the joy of crabbing, clamming, fishing and whale watching. The trains will block the ferry terminals of Tacoma, Seattle, Edmonds and Mukilteo every hour.
Think about it.
Alice Brown
Birch Bay

The Editor:
We the people of Whatcom County are being given two very different descriptions of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT). While GPT’s slick advertisements conjure lovely images of a fantasy terminal, the actual facts are contained in GPT’s official permit application filed in Whatcom County: (whatcomcounty.us/pds/plan/current/gpt-ssa/pdf/20120319-permit-submittal.pdf). The official GPT permit application describes a dangerous terminal that would unleash an attack of toxic coal dust, poisonous train diesel emissions, unrelenting noise and clogged railroad crossings that would harm our air, lands, waters, beaches, health, private property, existing businesses and jobs.
The official permit application states (page 135) that during its first 10 years GPT would export only coal (48 million metric tons annually in 2026), calcinated coke and Canadian potash (combined total six million metric tons annually in 2026) and (pages 115 and 135) reveals GPT’s 1.5-mile-long trains would block our railroad crossings 18 times every day. Pages 89 and 135 show GPT would have 2.5 miles of coal piled 62' high (as tall as a six-story building) in an “open-air,” “uncovered” 2.75-million-metric-ton coal stockyard – fully exposed to wind and rain. The official project application states (page 138) these uncovered coal stockpiles can indeed generate “wind-blown dust.”
The official permit application (pages 228 and 229) states Whatcom County could be harmed by GPT’s negative impacts which “include but are not limited to” “degradation in water quality,” “impacts on spawning fish,” and impacts on our “shorelines and tidal areas.”
Presently Whatcom County has jobs aboard 1,268 registered commercial fishing vessels, over 1,000 jobs at 12 seafood-processing plants and 5,870 jobs generated by tourism. GPT’s official application (page 134) states the maximum number of permanent jobs ever at GPT would be only “213 shift workers and 44 other workers.”
We, the people of Whatcom County, won’t be tricked by slick GPT ads into abandoning the protection of our families, our property and our shared natural treasures.
Paula Rotundi

The Editor:
A beach park for Birch Bay:
Traditionally, Birch Bay is one of the most  heavily clammed beaches in the state of Washington. In 2009 it was number one with 26,000 people counted clamming by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
On July 4, several thousand people celebrated all day on the beach with fireworks and generated three tons of trash while being served by four porta-potties, as reported by Whatcom County. More people can be expected in 2014 since the City of Bellingham has banned the use of personal fireworks in the city limits.
For the health and safety of the Birch Bay community and its visitors as outlined in the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan, the Whatcom County Council is asked to fund approximately $10,000 to examine the feasibility of acquiring a piece of property for a park to provide appropriate public services on the beach.
To refuse to even consider this likely opportunity would simply be irresponsible.  Such properties are few and far between. Once sold for other purposes, this property may never be available again for public use.
For more information, go to the Beach Park page at birchbayinfo.org. The county council contact information is included.
Kathy Berg
Birch Bay

The Editor:
Thank you to the volunteers who showed up at 8 a.m. Saturday morning to spend time weeding. We had somewhere between 16 and 20 with some staying for a couple of hours and a few hardy folk working until 1:30 p.m. It was wonderful to see the results from these willing helpers. Thanks also to Steve of Blaine Lawn and Maintenance for providing so many 55-gallon drums for us to use and for carting off so much of the yard waste.
People visiting the Post Office while we were working were already making positive comments about how much better the grounds looked. There is still much to be done but maybe this will be the start of a maintenance program. Let’s hope!
Sandie Miller

The Editor:
This letter is an open invitation for folks of all ages to enter the annual Prestigious George Raft Race to be held Saturday, August 3!
The good thing about this race is that anyone with a sturdy enough raft and the ambition to paddle a little harder than the competition can win. Just about every year there is a different winner. It doesn’t cost anything to enter the race either.
The only commodity that is spent for the most part is the time it takes to find the flotsam (used stuff) and to build one’s raft and perhaps a little money for glue or nails from the hardware store to cobble your raft.
Race participants have been known to build their rafts on the spot at the Harbor’s launch ramp finishing just before the start of the race, although that’s a little dicey and I wouldn’t recommend waiting that long.
The winner gets their team’s name and the date of the win engraved on the cool trophy and the winning team gets to take home the perpetual Prestigious George Raft Trophy home for one full year, plus all of the bragging rights that go with winning the race.
Everyone needs a life vest – we have them to loan put if needed.  Also everyone needs to be signed in – registration will begin at the top of the public launch ramp at 12:30 p.m. at the Blaine Harbor boat launch before the race begins.
Rules have changed somewhat – there now can be more than four participants per raft, but the raft rules committee still won’t allow cats in the race. Gary Cordrey from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will man a safety boat during the race. 
Any questions? Please call Bob Knapp at 332-3111 or call me at 332-5742 and we will point you in the right direction. Lastly we have flotsam to loan out to make a raft if you are caught in a pinch. Good luck and hope to see you there!
Richard Sturgill

The Editor:
I am writing to wish Gary Tomsic well in his much deserved retirement.
I arrived in Blaine in 2005, shortly after Gary assumed his position of city manager.
Every morning as I drive through Blaine on my way to work at Stafholt, I am cheered by the transformation of Blaine during the past eight years.
Frankly, the town looked a bit blighted when I first arrived. The town now certainly reflects a vision Gary and his team had – and implemented. Note the many street improvements, the “parklets” at the end of H and G streets, the development of Marine Drive and the completion of the treatment plant with all its difficulties that were inherited. 
It is certainly a pleasure to stroll around Blaine with its new and improved restaurants, the farmers market and its new vitality.
Gary certainly leaves Blaine a prettier, more pleasant place to live and work.
Thank you for your stewardship.
Wayne Weinschenk

The Editor:
With the upcoming county council election on the horizon, it is extremely important that we all be aware of growth management issues and the need for council members to be elected who will comply with the Growth Management Act. Protecting critical environmental areas such as wetland habitats and geologically unstable areas is of utmost importance. It is also imperative that we protect our resource lands.
Whatcom County is the fourth largest agricultural economy in the state. Our cities all abut agricultural lands, and by increasing urban development we are impacting our resource areas. This calls for careful planning that will be cognizant of water supply and storm water and police and fire services. It would be more practical to increase our downtown by restoring the abandoned buildings and protecting farmland from sprawl.
When casting your vote for county council members consider someone who is fiscally prudent, respects the environment and quality-of-life, respects the law and is open to the opinions of the constituents.
Ann Berntsen

The Editor:
I support President Obama’s recently announced plan to combat climate change and advance clean energy. The plan calls for reducing carbon pollution from power plants – our largest source of pollution driving climate change – that also harms our health and economy.
Going back to coal is certainly not the answer. Why ship coal across the sea when it may someday be more valuable as we learn to manage our resources in different ways that will not pollute?
Alternative transportation has got to be made more attractive than pushing around 2,000 pounds every time we run an errand. We did it with room-sized computers, and someday our children will laugh at us – if we don’t kill them first with our excesses.
Investing in renewable energy, increased efficiency and pollution controls will create jobs and a more resilient economy. We are smart enough to do this; we just need the incentive and encouragement to move away from fossil fuel.
We will also combat health problems and the rising cost of insurance if we just stop throwing poisons around. We owe it to our children and future generations to rise to this challenge.
Ellen Clark

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