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“Coal on a Roll” - in depth from onearth.org

By On

A longish article, but with good information for us here in Whatcom County. As we face the looming reality of the Cherry Point Coal Terminal, we would do well to learn what the forces are that are imposing this on us. And let us not fool ourselves on two issues: It is a coal port and the fix is in. None of this 'general cargo terminal' lie and none of this make-believe that the government agencies still need to approve the permits. The fix is in - from the governor to our two U.S. senators to the agencies they control - all of them.

But still, we can learn, and this article is good for looking at the larger picture. George Black traveled to the places and interviewed people and did some research. www.onearth.org is a website of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. It is based in New York. Funny they can have a guy do more traveling in our Washington state than any of our journalists. But then they don't have pressure from local advertisers.

Coal on a Roll, by George Black on the website onearth.org

My thanks to John Watts for referring me to this article - and to his wife Joan for referring it to him.

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About John Servais

Writer • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Todd Granger

Sep 01, 2011

John,
That’s not the route a Bellingham bound train wiould take, any in depth map would show the correct route to Cherry Point, I’m positive even Warren would tell you that free information.

http://www.bnsf.com/customers/where-can-i-ship/coal-mine-guide/

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John Servais

Sep 03, 2011

That is the map used in the article - and that is why it is used to illustrate this short review and link to the article.  That should be plain enough.

I was in Missoula this summer and saw the coal trains pass through on their way to Roberts Bank - per the route on this map.  The rail through Missoula is leased by BNSF.  There are probably more routes that are used.  I hope to be posting more on this soon.

Regardless, I still think the coal trains for Cherry Point will come across Canada, cross over at Sumas and ride on new tracks to Custer.  Lynden will be blindsided.  See my March 25 article.

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David Camp

Sep 06, 2011

John,

Despite your apparent capitulation to the “looming reality of the Cherry Point Coal Terminal” because “the fix is in”, others here in our green county beg to differ. No doubt George III believed in the “looming reality” of his victory over an army of hemp-clothed colonial volunteers, as did the CIA in the continuing usefulness of its asset in North Africa, Colonel Ghaddaffi. To quote Robbie Burns: “The best laid plans of mice and men oft gang aglay”.

The traitors who run our national economy for their own benefit and that of foreign rivals, with whom they are in league (Goldman Sachs on Chairman Mao’s payroll - and our own local unions corrupted by the same greedy moral degenerates!), are few in number and easily identifiable. Thanks to the increasing concentration of wealth and power that globalization engenders, the economic elite is both richer and smaller in number. Soon enough they will feel the wrath of the American middle class that they continue to sell out to Communist Chinese interests.

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John Servais

Sep 06, 2011

David - nowhere did I capitulate.  Funny how you read that in. The fix is in - and we do need to learn much more about this.  Right now we are thrashing blindly about in anger - and that will not do us any good. 

Dan Pike reversing himself for pure political reasons and saying he is against the project is a blind lashing out.  If reelected, he will probably forget his opposition the day after the election - as he did for most of his promises 4 years ago.  And, his lashing out at the coal trains is just dumb as trains go where they want.  He worked on transportation policies for the state before being elected and he well knows the emptiness of his ranting against trains. 

The one person doing the most is Bob Ferris of Re-Sources.  He is combining opposition with education.  He should be supported by all.  But we have lots of people and organizations that want to be seen as political heros and will try to take the spotlight - with vague and meaningless rants. 

We need to learn more.  Our elected officials can ask questions - but so far they have not.  When I ask them as individuals why not - they say that the railroads, SSA, the regulators, our governor, our two senators, and Goldman Sachs do not have to give answers.  Well, to me, that is no reason for not asking the questions. 

If we as a county wide community actually try to learn what is planned and to seek to stop it if it is onerous, then we could do it.  But we seem to not have the leaders who will seek the answers for us.  You or I can post questions and they will never be answered.  But if county council members ask and repeatedly ask questions in this election season, then some answers might come forward. 

Right now we know little of what we might object to.  And that is the way the powers want to keep it.  First we need to learn. Then we can decide whether or not to oppose.  Right now, the fix is in - and we peasants are not expected to know how to do anything meaningful about it.  Hard truth, but the truth.

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David Camp

Sep 07, 2011

John,

I admit to having read a certain fatalistic acceptance of the fix that’s in in your post. Glad you’ve not given up hope. This Coal project is of global scope - the SSA-Cherry Point project is a small component of many comprising it. And its proponents have so far done a good job of keeping opposition fragmented and local. And of co-opting local worthies to divide and conquer, exploiting the social divisions carefully maintained by the money elite: “conservative” v. “librul”; county v. B’ham; green v. jobs. (It seems to me that we have an elite that maintains power by a combination of racketeering and brainwashing and dominionist ideology - putting up hired hand “leaders” to maintain the illusion of democracy. e.g. our Empty Suit of an Emperor.).

And they use deception as a matter of habit. Consider the BS statement “the trains will come through B’ham anyway and the coal will be shipped through Canadian ports”. True only for the very small capacity at ROberts Bank (Tswawassen, BC) - even if its planned expansion goes through, it will be for only a small fraction of the capacity proposed for Cherry Point. So yes coal trains will come through town- only not 40 per day, but rather only 10 or so (compared to the current 4).

I’m looking forward to the candidates’ responses to this question in the October edition of Whatcom Watch.

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John Servais

Sep 07, 2011

I agree with you, David. 

Except for waiting for possible answers in the October Whatcom Watch.  That is how we lose - by going with the routine practices of Democracy.

Instead, we need many of our elected officials and candidates to publicly ask the hard questions now - and keep asking them.  We need to put Senators Murray and Cantwell on the spot.  We need to put the Governor on the spot.  We need even those candidates who think this coal port is a good idea to ask hard questions. 

But we won’t see that.  The fix is in.  We will see knowingly empty rhetoric and excuses.  And a few years from now we will listen to these same people say they would have been against this coal port if only they had known.  It is how it works.  We need some real leadership in our community.  So far, I do not see any individual willing to take up that vacant position.  Kremen and Pike have certainly never gone near such a position.  Will Linville or Louws?  Will Tony or Barry or Seth or Christie?

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