Letters to the Editor: May 2017

The Editor:

On Thursday, April 6, the Seattle Times reported thousands of defects found on rail lines hauling crude oil. Nearly 24,000 safety defects were found on routes in 44 states. No wonder our county council has decided to slow down the process of allowing more crude oil traffic in the county.

County residents are seeing more “Protect Cherry Point Jobs” signs produced by Whatcom Business Alliance (preservecherrypoint.com). It appears Gateway is at pushing the oil trains again. Consider the jobs gained by these trains of crude. The idea is to sell the crude to China where it will be processed, then possibly sold back to the U.S. as petroleum. This will not be jobs gained, but really good refinery jobs lost and the taxes and community participation refineries offer.

Consider coal trains: temporary jobs constructing a robotized complex that will require thousands of gallons of precious water a day to control dust, which will drain into the Salish Sea, and increase foreign tanker traffic in pristine waterways. Foreign workers will man the ships, carry unknown organisms in their ballast water and risk numerous accidents by rail and sea. The only long-term jobs created will be in after the fact-spill clean-up and land and water restoration, if possible. Do not fall for the rhetoric!

Donna Starr

Blaine

The Editor:

Point Roberts Parks and Recreation District 1 commissioners voted unanimously to use property as collateral for a lien to fund $160K from WCLS to FOPRL. After the expense of an unsuccessful levy vote, FOPRL believes 55 percent of 752 votes is a mandate to build (unconcerned that the law requires 60 percent, that 250 did not vote and over 1,000 can’t vote.) Point Roberts Parks and Recreation District benefit: almost $1 million more borrowing power. The community center may become a parking garage with the new borrowing power. Can’t wait for the price of an elevator in Point Roberts!

Point Roberts parks district is not the Whatcom County Parks Department and can barely maintain the community center and 65-acre park it already owns, let alone act as or hire the project manager, manage or create programs for the community center. The center’s dishes, cups, etc. are provided by senior’s club members and the Meals on Wheels program provide seniors’ meals and half the cost of equipment/repair. Taxes pay operating costs and a $250K capital improvements bond levy. The parks district will soon request more operating funds.

LEEDS buildings typically cost 20 to 25 percent more to build (hence the estimated $840K) and operate, requiring more frequent, technical maintenance. The estimated cost does not include landscaping, paving, etc. As a public entity Whatcom County Library System could have requested its own tax levy for building, but county oversight and debt restrictions could apply.

“No levy” voters welcome a new library, if donated and maintained by WCLS. Changing estimated costs, encumbered title of parks and recreation property plus increased operating costs for a high-maintenance, single-use, part-time building are the problems we have with present arrangements. All are detrimental to Point Roberts Park and Recreation programs.

No voters feel FOPRL and WCLS should adjust spending to cash on hand. What is the parks departrment’s mission? Tell parks commissioners how you feel or don’t complain about high taxes.

New MOU: Parks and Recreation property liened by WCLS for up to 25 percent of net proceeds for any sale, (even if the building is sold to another public entity).

Federal budget proposals could cut Meals on Wheels funding.

FOPRL: a private entity is not accountable to public disclosure laws.

Donna Gillespie

Point Roberts

The Editor:

We recognize that many people are homebound and this can cause isolation, depression and extreme loneliness. We are starting a birthday card program for the Meals on Wheels clients in Whatcom County for our Girl Scout Silver Award.

We will come together and make birthday cards, each with a hand-written note. We will include a chocolate bar and these cards will go out on the client’s birthday. This allows the homebound individual to feel remembered by their community. Consider joining us this Friday, April 28, 6–7 p.m. at the Blaine Senior Center.

Hailey Karuza and Amira Hanowell

Girl Scout Troop 42579

The Editor:

From all the signs that have gone up around the county, you may be aware that the local business advocacy organization, Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA), has a website, preservecherrypoint.com. Unfortunately, the WBA leads off that webpage saying, “The Whatcom County Council is considering passing a study to kill jobs at Cherry Point and cut education funding for schools in our communities.” This statement is not true.

The study the county council and planning commission are recommending is to “develop recommendations for legal ways the county can work to limit crude oil, coal, and natural gas exports from the Cherry Point UGA above levels in existence as of July 5, 2016.”

Additional export of fuels, such as crude oil, can mean more crude-by-rail trains prone to explode, more vessel traffic in and around the aquatic reserve and treaty-protected fishing grounds, and fewer jobs at Cherry Point since the refining of increased fuels shipped in would not be done by workers at the Cherry Point
refineries.

Additional export of natural gas can mean more pipelines that could leak into the same vulnerable waters at Cherry Point.

Additional export of coal would mean keeping the door open to a coal terminal that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers already found would violate Lummi Treaty Rights. The May 2016 Army Corps decision specifically found the construction of the additional fourth pier at Cherry Point that Gateway Pacific Terminals wanted to build would violate Lummi Nation’s usual and accustomed treaty fishing
rights.

When considering increased export of such fuels, we also have to remember that even though our Cherry Point refineries are safer compared to others, the extraction of these fuels is often devastatingly invasive and polluting of our planet and can be incredibly dangerous to
workers.

Smart and successful businesses adjust to the demands of the changing world around them. When they do, they have the potential to thrive like never before. Time for Cherry Point industries to transition to safer and renewable energy options.

Dena Jenson

Birch Bay

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