Letters to the Editor: January 17 to January 23

Published on Wed, Jan 16, 2013
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The Editor:

A speaker at the Ferndale Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) public scoping hearing used these words when expressing her support of the GPT: “Done right, done the Northwest way.” Wow, what a slick sound bite! I reviewed the video footage and saw she was speaker number 14, Lauri Hennessey, who said she was representing the Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports. “Let’s be clear,” (to borrow a few of Lauri’s words that she used later in her speech):
Lauri is actually VP of Corporate and Public Affairs for Edelman, a large PR firm in Seattle. SSA, the company wanting to build GPT, is a client of Edelman.
The Alliance for Northwest Jobs, as well as The Northwest Jobs Alliance are both websites and groups created to specifically promote on their websites only the GPT Project in the name of more Northwest jobs.
Also, speaker number 8, Jed Brewer, a consultant hired by SSA to corroborate John Martin’s (also hired by SSA) economic study of GPT was asked by SSA to hand in the results at the Ferndale hearing and speak there. 
In his speech he said, “In some areas our estimates of the economic benefits were larger than Martin’s, and some areas were smaller. Overall they were qualitatively similar.” Actually, Brewer’s report found the construction-induced (indirect) job number estimate was 45.7 percent smaller than Martin’s. That doesn’t seem qualitatively similar. We need to read every report and especially the GPT permit itself – it’s vastly different than what SSA’s spokespeople have been telling us.
SSA is promoting this project through catch phrases like “Good Jobs Now,” “Family Wage Jobs” and “Doing Things the Northwest Way,” and with groups they have created and/or paid to repeat those catchphrases long and hard. To save our prized Northwest we need to do things right, ask hard questions, and get the long list of facts about coal and the adverse impacts that GPT will have on our health, our environment and our beautiful Pacific Northwest. Go to the official GPT EIS website (eisgatewaypacificwa.gov) and write about every single concern you want carefully studied in order to decide if the GPT should be built.

Dena Jensen
Birch Bay

The Editor:

My impression of the Ferndale scoping meeting on November 29 was that it was like a circus, orchestrated by Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) proponents who paid some of their allies to come early and get the lion’s share of speaking spots. Is this what they mean when they say “Good Jobs Now”?
The sabotage may have been an effort to avoid exposing the fate of Ferndale’s water supply, which has always come from the Nooksack River. In December 2011, Public Utility District (PUD) #1 contracted with Pacific International Terminals (the subsidiary that SSA Marine created to build GPT) to allow the use of 1.9 billion gallons per year from the Nooksack River to operate the terminal. This amounts to 5.3 million gallons of water per day, which is more than Ferndale residents daily usage. Ferndale residents must now rely on groundwater, and my understanding is that they are not happy about it.
It is universally documented that coal is a toxic fossil fuel, harmful to the earth’s environment when mined, transported and burned for fuel; in that process it contaminates everything in the environment, as well as the air we breathe. As snowfalls decline and glaciers recede due to climate change from burning fossil fuels, the Nooksack River may diminish. The issue of whether or not there will be enough quality water for industry, irrigation and Ferndale residents while GPT teams up with the PUD should be carefully studied and explained to the public during the EIS process.
If 257 permanent jobs at full build-out are more important than the health of our people, what good are they? Before January 21, log on to eisgatewaypacificwa.gov or powerpastcoal.com to write the co-lead agencies who will influence the EIS and thereby affect the final decision to approve or disapprove the biggest coal-shipping terminal in North America, located right here in Ferndale.

Harold Roper
Birch Bay

The Editor:

The three industrial docks in the Cherry Point area accommodate about 850 oil tanker transits per year and these tankers are nowhere near the size that SSA Marine will use to transport coal from Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT). The Cape-sized or Panamax bulk carriers used for GPT are among the largest ships ever built – they are longer than three football fields and too wide to fit through Panama Canal locks.
The scale of the proposed GPT wharf and pier will dwarf existing wharfs at Cherry Point. GPT will build a 3,000-foot wharf with three berths, accommodating two Cape-size and one Panamax bulk carrier at once. The GPT wharf will be less than 3,000 feet from the BP refinery dock. The combined total of oil tankers and bulk carriers in and out of Cherry Point each year will be over 1,824. I believe this will create a gridlock of gigantic proportions, inviting untold chaos.
To review SSA Marine’s plans for GPT, visit co.whatcom.wa.us/pds/plan/current/gpt-ssa/pdf/
Chapter 4.5.7 mentions that site-specific emergency 
response and marine spill response plans will be developed, but are unspecified. Regardless of plans for emergencies or spills, the size and scope of this much traffic and activity associated with it will be enormous and perhaps impossible to mitigate.  
The public needs to understand what is specifically being planned and/or omitted. Requests and demands for more detailed information to be studied and included in the Environmental Impact Report (EIS) must be submitted before January 21. 
Submissions can be made easily and quickly at 
eisgatewaypacificwa.gov. SSA Marine needs to be made to answer to the environmental 
catastrophe they are developing. The EIS is the only way it can be stopped and if enough people address a given concern, they are required by law to respond in detail.  
Complacency and procrastination will only accomplish one thing: destruction of the Puget Sound environment, catastrophic accidents and the deliberate, unconscionable ruin of our precious resources. 
The jobs we envision from this project are not jobs we want: environmental cleanup and restoration of life and property over time. We will pay for SSA’s profiteering.

Christine Westland
Birch Bay    

The Editor:

My heartfelt thank you goes out to Steve Hendricks and his most excellent employees at Via Birch Bay Cafe and Bistro. It was so special for them to include me in the proceeds of the benefit given on January 5. The dinner, music and atmosphere made for a most enjoyable evening for so many. I truly feel blessed. It is a pleasure and comforting feeling having my small business in this beautiful area and knowing you have my back! Thank you again. Happy New Year to everyone!

Susan Fisher, owner, Birch Bay Consignment & Thrift
Birch Bay

The Editor:

The United Church of Christ (UCC) website states that “Open and Affirming is the United Church of Christ’s designation for congregations, campus ministries, and other bodies in the UCC which make a public covenant of welcome into their full life and ministry to persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.”
Blaine United Church of Christ board’s abrupt decision to remove Reverend Marsha Williams without cause or notice meets none of those goals. It was both shortsighted and mean-spirited. The process to select a minister is exhaustive. 
If they felt that she wasn’t a good fit, they had multiple opportunities to not hire her. Several wealthy families left shortly after she was installed and took their money with them. They understood the implications of publicly objecting to a candidate based solely on her gender, her race, and sexual orientation. They lacked courage and failed to voice their concerns when it mattered most – before they hired her. 
The removal of their money must have hurt the church but perhaps its congregation is just too conservative for a reverend that is female, African American and lesbian. However, there must have been a way that they could have brought this dilemma to Reverend Marsha and come to a solution rather than firing her and giving her 24 hours to get out.
These kinds of unilateral actions generally result in a deep division within a congregation and does not bode well for its long-term survivability. It will make it nearly impossible for Blaine’s UCC to obtain a new minister. I have to wonder if the board bothered to consider the outcome of their actions not only for Reverend Marsha, but also for their church as a whole. In short, good luck with that. Their loss is some other UCC church’s enormous gain.

Sonja Duncan

The Editor: 

Recently, my daughter and her four sons (three-year-old twins, a six-year-old and an eleven-year-old) came to live with my husband and me.
They didn’t have much in the way of furniture or clothing so we went to the used items and consignment store “Pickers Attic” in Blaine.
I found a small chest of drawers that would fit in the small room only if they were stacked.
Jeanette and Wes did just that, stacked them, secured them well and also loaded them onto my truck.
They helped with clothing for the boys, even adding some toys.
These people are in the business of selling used items but took the time to help our newly acquired family.
Bless them for their kindness and generosity.

Pamela and Ray Royce

The Editor: 

I am so not happy with the city of Blaine Sewer Department or personnel. I experienced a plumbing problem and when a simple use of a snake didn’t solve my problem I called them. It was a late Friday afternoon but a very nice man came to my door to report their lines were all running fine so the blockage had to be in my pipes. 
I hired a man to come out to fix my problem (it cost me almost $300); he was unable to find a blockage and suggested I hired a plumbing company. This was on Saturday.
 Sunday morning before leaving for work I still had standing water in my bathtub so I emailed Sullivan Plumbing for a Monday appointment.
Upon my return home I saw the sewer cap in the alley at the end of my driveway was gushing water everywhere. I called the City of Blaine emergency number to report what was happening, then noticed my bathtub had drained. Within a few hours the gushing sewer was fixed and so was my plumbing. Everything was flushing and draining like new. Obviously the problem was in the sewer lines after all.   
I feel the city should have reimbursed me for the money spent trying to fix a problem I never had, but they turned it around saying I had caused their problem. They know and I know this isn’t true, but they are not taking responsibility for it.
I wonder if anyone else has had an unfortunate experience with our sewer department?

Deb Elworthy

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