I would like to call readers’ attention to a very well written and timely article by Jeff Galbraith published in the latest issue of Sierra Magazine about the proposed coal export terminal slated to be perched on the edge of Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. The article features the Lummi Nation who, along with the rest of us would be seriously affected by this terminal and its ultimate consequences.
In 2011 SSA Marine began filing permit requests to build a new coal export terminal. In addition to the snaking trains carrying crude oil to refineries and the endless conveyor of tankers toting the refined fuel to China and India, the proposed terminal would be capable of shipping 49 million tons of coal per year. Up to 18 additional train per day – .. .The coal would be transferred onto vessels three times the length of a football field, shipped over sea lanes that would eat upwards of 20 percent of the Lummi fishing grounds, and finally delivered to power plants in Asia, primarily in China.Galbraith describes the setting wonderfully:
The coho are running, chasing the scent of their natal creeks. Below them, waves of eelgrass undulate, reflecting and breaking the sunlight into a shadowy marine veld. A few bits of herring roe manage to cling to the gentle strands, last hopes of a once-great fishery.The proposed site is at Cherry Point, Whatcom County, Washington State, just 15 miles north of Bellingham and about 10 miles south of the Canadian border. More significant is that the estimated additional 18 coal trains per day that would run from Wyoming’s Powder River basin, through Montana, Idaho, and all of Washington State, would also run through Seattle, many other small towns including Bellingham, and the Lummi tribal lands to be deposited on their ancestral grounds at Cherry Point.
Lummi elders, youngsters and fishers gathered in September 2012 to protest at Cherry Point with traditional drumming and singing, sending a public message that their fishing grounds were not for sale.
No Check is Big Enough
The good news is that the Lummi nation has said and demonstrated that they will not sign off on this outrageous plan that will destroy not only their fishery, but the waters of the Salish Sea and ultimately the world’s atmosphere as the coal is destined for China’s insatiable appetite.
The bad news is that there is huge amount of money and political clout behind this project including Peabody Coal, Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad, SSA Marine, and many Wall Street investors, although it is of interest that Goldman-Sachs recently pulled out.