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Thu, Aug 14, 2014, 3:13 pm // Guest writer
Sandra Robson guest writes this article. She has researched and written about the problems with a coal port at Cherry Point for over a year, with 4 articles in the Whatcom Watch and now this 5th article on NWCitizen.
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Brad Owens and John Huntley are the spokespersons for Northwest Jobs Alliance (NJA), which was created to market the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) project at Cherry Point, proposed by SSA Marine/Pacific International Terminal (PIT). They recently co-authored an op-ed in the Bellingham Herald headlined, "Economic prosperity, quality of environment equally important.”
While Owens and Huntley tout the supposed economic prosperity of the proposed 48 million ton coal export terminal, Lummi people, who are the original inhabitants of Washington's northernmost coast, seem to have a different view of prosperity according to their Schelangen, or Lummi way of life.
Cherry Point is home to a significant environmental resource and unique aquatic ecosystem in the Strait of Georgia. The Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Management Plan, aimed at protecting the health and aquatic environment of Cherry Point, is a 90-year plan that was put into place in 2000 by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
The plan states the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve’s “marine waters and aquatic lands are a portion of Treaty-protected Usual and Accustomed grounds and stations of local Native American Indians, and are used by the Indians for commercial, ceremonial, and subsistence purposes.”
The National Museum of the American Indian website, a component of the Smithsonian Institute, offers a video about Lummi Nation called, “Our Homeland", which talks about Schelangen:
“In Lummi territory, the rivers, estuaries, and ocean abound with life. This environment is home to more than 200 species of fish, 200 kinds of birds, and many species of mammals. There are vast forests of cedar and other trees, bushes, and small plants. It’s also the home to several species of salmon.”
“The Lummi developed a deep knowledge of the environment by careful observation. They were expert in biology, botany, and medicine. And most importantly, they learned how to use the resources without using them up. In the Lummi language, this way of life is called schelangen.”
In the waterways in and around Cherry Point, Lummi fishers harvest salmon, halibut, herring, crab and shellfish. An OPB EarthFix article, "Tribal Fisherman Sees Coal Threat Looming," lists some concerns Lummi Indian Business Council (LIBC) member and fisherman, Jay Julius, has about the proposed coal terminal. Julius "worries that the increased coal tanker [vessel] traffic would harm the tribe’s ability to exercise its treaty-guaranteed rights to harvest these fish and shellfish. . . One accident inside the Salish Sea and my way of life is gone." Julius added, “If the terminal is built, it could also destroy underwater archaeological sites and upland burial grounds."
If GPT is built, 487 Panamax and Capesize vessels are expected to call on the terminal, going in and out of Cherry Point every year. There are already oil tankers calling on Cherry Point for the two oil refineries and all these large vessels will be competing for space in the sensitive waters.
The herring population at Cherry Point is dwindling, declining more than 92 percent between the 1970s and 2012. According to “Big Coal meets Cherry Point’s tiny herring,” a Crosscut.com article, "Scientists believe herring make up two thirds of the diet of the federally protected Chinook salmon; the Chinook in turn provide two-thirds of the food supply for Puget Sound Orcas." Puget Sound Orca are a federally protected species by the Endangered Species Act.
In an April 3, 2014 letter to Governor Jay Inslee, the LIBC stated, “…the Lummi Nation has a treaty right to harvest salmon and shellfish in a manner sufficient to support our Schelangen (‘way of life’).” Schelangen is a right guaranteed and protected by the Treaty of Point Elliott with the U.S. government.
The LIBC wrote in its June 6, 2011 letter to the U.S. Department of Interior that, "The Lummi people have fished in the Nooksack River and the waters of northern Puget Sound since time immemorial. Article V of the Treaty of Point Elliott provides that the 'right of taking fish from usual and accustomed grounds and stations is further secured to said Indians in common with all citizens of the territory.'”
Furthermore, "The Lummi Nation retains a federal reserved Indian water right to instream flows sufficient to support their treaty fishing rights. ...Lummi also retains a federal reserved water right for consumptive uses necessary to fulfill other purposes of its reservation."
The letter goes on, "At this time, state-permitted water diversions have reduced flows in the Nooksack River and threaten the fish species that make up the Nation's treaty fishery. In addition, state sanctioned water withdrawals within the Lummi Reservation threaten the Nation's reserved water rights on the Reservation.”
Currently, SSA Marine/PIT is contracted (through 2042) with the Whatcom County PUD 1 for a capacity of up to 5.33 million gallons of Nooksack River water daily. This water will be used to spray the 2 ½ miles of 60 ft. tall coal piles to prevent the coal from spontaneously combusting, as well as to try to minimize coal dust.
According to the LIBC, in their January 15, 2013 scoping comment submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding the Environmental Impact Statement for GPT, “Considering the depressed nature of Nooksack River salmon stocks including the listing of early‐run Chinook salmon pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, tribal treaty rights to a sustainable, harvestable surplus of salmon, and the need for instream flows, additional withdrawals from the Nooksack River for this proposed project should not be allowed.”
The LIBC also said that the proposed GPT, and the inter‐related BNSF Custer Spur Rail Expansion projects are both within the Lummi Nation Usual and Accustomed and traditional areas, and will result in significant, unavoidable, and unacceptable interference with their treaty rights and irreversible and irretrievable damage to their spiritual values.
In January 2014, KUOW Public Radio featured a series called, “Sacred Catch,” which explored the fishing rights of Native Americans in Washington state. Lummi elder Ramona Morris gave some insight as to how salmon is the Lummi Nation’s Sacred Catch: “Salmon is sacred to us in a sense. …We’ve been known as ‘The Salmon People.’ That’s our livelihood. That’s our survival. That helps us survive."
Related Links:-> Herring graph sourced to 2005 WA Dept Fish & Wildlife report
-> Lummi Nation Litigation Request - June 7, 2011
Thu, Aug 14, 2014, 3:13 pm // Guest writerSandy Robson guest writes of the need for real prosperity at Cherry Point, not a destructive short term coal port that destroys the fishing grounds.
5 comments; last on Oct 02, 2014
Mon, Jul 07, 2014, 5:04 am // Guest writerGuest writer Sandy Robson breaks the story of officials from Washington treated to a coal-promoting junket to Wyoming.
2 comments; last on Jul 13, 2014
Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 9:01 pm // Guest writerIn the Weekly, Tim Johnson left out three words in quoting Craig Cole - and his story misleads readers. Guest article by Sandy Robson.
11 comments; last on Jul 01, 2014
Wed, Jun 11, 2014, 11:39 am // John ServaisWyoming Senators and coal honchos were in Whatcom County June 10 - to hold a news conference with select reporters.
7 comments; last on Jun 20, 2014
Sun, Jun 01, 2014, 12:39 am // Guest writerA Venn diagram where coal, the Endangered Species Act, Republicans, and Wyoming’s Board of Education collide.
2 comments; last on Jun 02, 2014
Wed, May 28, 2014, 3:15 pm // Guest writerA perspective by guest writer Ellen Murphy reflects on the Whatcom Watch and the threatened law suit by Craig Cole.
22 comments; last on Jun 01, 2014
Thu, May 22, 2014, 12:10 am // Guest writerWyoming is ready to try and legally force us to limit our environmental scoping for the Cherry Point coal terminal
4 comments; last on Jun 17, 2014
Fri, May 09, 2014, 6:10 am // Terry WechslerWhy Washington must step in and assume lead agency status in Skagit County for the Shell crude by rail proposal.
6 comments; last on Jun 21, 2014
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 1:59 pm // Terry WechslerA closer look at Whatcom County's industrial "stewards of the environment."
4 comments; last on Aug 28, 2014
Sun, Apr 06, 2014, 12:52 pm // Terry WechslerWhy commenting on the EIS for Comp Plan revisions for Cherry Point means demanding an EIS in the first place.
5 comments; last on Jun 25, 2014
Mon, Mar 10, 2014, 10:51 am // Riley SweeneyRiley digs into an unusual hiring decision at the County Planning Dept
1 comments; last on Mar 10, 2014
Sun, Mar 02, 2014, 3:22 pm // John ServaisThe editor of the Whatcom Watch, Richard Jehn, has resigned effective today. Chalk up a victory for Craig Cole and Pacific International Terminals.
8 comments; last on Mar 05, 2014
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 9:29 pm // John ServaisThe full text of Craig Cole's threatening letter of libel against the Whatcom Watch. And the emptiness of the threat.
16 comments; last on Mar 20, 2014
Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 5:48 pm // John ServaisCraig Cole, the local contact for the proposed Cherry Point coal port has threatened the Whatcom Watch with a libel lawsuit.
6 comments; last on Mar 20, 2014
Wed, Oct 02, 2013, 6:40 am // Riley SweeneyRiley uncovers how the Coal Industry is funding conservative candidates in Whatcom County
11 comments; last on Oct 03, 2013
Fri, May 31, 2013, 12:01 am // Guest writerJeffrey Margolis urges us to request the Nooksack South Fork Valley be included in the Coal Port environmental study.
3 comments; last on Jun 02, 2013
Sun, May 05, 2013, 3:45 pm // John ServaisHelp fund a scientific study looking for links between diesel locomotives, coal trains and unhealthy air.
Tue, Jan 22, 2013, 7:19 pm // Wendy HarrisLinks to a few noteworthy GPT scoping comments .
1 comments; last on Jan 23, 2013
Wed, Dec 19, 2012, 12:12 pm // John ServaisA dramatic video of yet another mudslide near Everett - and what will be coming down on coal trains. Amtrak service to Bellingham is shut down.
4 comments; last on Dec 20, 2012
Sat, Dec 08, 2012, 2:43 pm // John ServaisA giant coal freighter went right through the long dock early Friday morning. Nothing in print edition of Herald
3 comments; last on Dec 11, 2012
Fri, Sep 21, 2012, 9:53 am // John ServaisBellingham Business Journal breaking story - Lummi's to hold meeting today at noon to speak against the Cherry Point project.
7 comments; last on Nov 04, 2012
Mon, Aug 20, 2012, 9:00 am // Riley SweeneyRiley sits down with Matt Petryni with Power Past Coal to get the latest scoop
Thu, Aug 09, 2012, 9:30 pm // Larry HorowitzQuestions raised by the Superior Court's barring of the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights initiative from being placed on the ballot.
21 comments; last on Aug 17, 2012
Sun, Jul 15, 2012, 1:54 am // Tip JohnsonWherein we see the Railroad walking it's walk while we get ready to talk our talk.
1 comments; last on Jul 16, 2012
Sun, Jan 15, 2012, 1:06 am // Wendy HarrisPlanning Commissioner Onkels should recuse himself from review of environmental impacts at GPT.
3 comments; last on Feb 08, 2012
Sun, Dec 04, 2011, 6:53 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein the sooty prospect of economic necessity rears its ugly head
2 comments; last on Dec 05, 2011
Fri, Dec 02, 2011, 3:08 pm // Wendy HarrisPlanning Staff's recommended revision will not prevent SSA from reducing wetland buffers.
Tue, Nov 22, 2011, 11:29 pm // Wendy HarrisThe County's new mitigation proposal is unlikely to be adequate for Cherry Point's industrial impacts to habitat buffers
3 comments; last on Nov 24, 2011
Sat, Nov 19, 2011, 10:24 pm // Paul deArmondLooking at the numbers for the Bellingham elections
11 comments; last on Nov 22, 2011
Mon, Oct 31, 2011, 4:07 pm // Guest writerBob Ferris of Re-Sources takes a values based perspective on our community and a possible coal port.
9 comments; last on Nov 02, 2011
Thu, Sep 08, 2011, 10:37 am // Riley SweeneyLook at the title, it spells it out.
6 comments; last on Sep 12, 2011
Thu, Sep 01, 2011, 3:46 pm // John ServaisGeorge Black is comprehensive on the Powder River coal basin, BNSF, and the shipping of coal from Cherry Point and Longview.
6 comments; last on Sep 07, 2011
Fri, Jul 29, 2011, 11:11 am // John ServaisThe Gateway Pacific coal port appears to be under construction now - secretly and w/o permits.
36 comments; last on Aug 05, 2011
Mon, Jun 20, 2011, 11:42 am // Tip JohnsonWherein something smells a bit fishy
2 comments; last on Jul 29, 2011
Wed, Jun 08, 2011, 2:09 pm // John ServaisWho all is on the take? Who all has not been up front about being on the take for the Coal Port?
4 comments; last on Jun 12, 2011
Fri, Jun 03, 2011, 12:56 pm // John ServaisA running update of links and info on the Coal Port and Trains of proposed Gateway Pacific at Cherry Point.
15 comments; last on Jun 29, 2011
Thu, Jun 02, 2011, 7:45 pm // John ServaisThe public meeting to hear opinions about the coal port last night saw local union leader Dave Warren playing games.
3 comments; last on Jun 05, 2011
Wed, Jun 01, 2011, 5:32 pm // Guest writerGuest writer Mark Flanders' call to action for June 1 flash mob at coal port meeting
7 comments; last on Jun 09, 2011
Mon, May 30, 2011, 11:40 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein blackened hearts and minds are initially examined
6 comments; last on Jun 02, 2011
Fri, Mar 25, 2011, 5:00 am // John ServaisCoal trains will probably pass Lynden on their way from Sumas to Cherry Point, after coming across on the Canadian rail roads.
16 comments; last on Aug 14, 2011
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