Our Blogs‎ > ‎Clean Energy Blog‎ > ‎

Support Whatcom County Council in Comprehensive Plan policies for Cherry Point, extending fossil fuel export moratorium

posted Mar 1, 2017, 2:35 PM by RE Sources for Sustainable Communities   [ updated Mar 30, 2017, 3:48 PM ]
Although SSA Marine has withdrawn their 2011 county permits for a coal terminal at Cherry Point, the fact is still the same: Cherry Point remains a targeted route to export crude oil, tar sands, and fracked gas.

In March 2017, the Whatcom County Council is working on updates to their Comprehensive Plan policies for Cherry Point. This is a huge turning point for the future of our community. 

Join us in calling on the Whatcom County Council to take actions to protect the public by discouraging projects to bring more dangerous crude oil shipments through Whatcom County, Cherry Point, and the Salish Sea.


Next steps for the Whatcom County Council 

Whatcom County's moratorium on permit applications for unrefined fossil fuel export projects at Cherry Point is set to expire in March 2017, which could open a window for SSA Marine to apply for a new project. The county is also working through Comprehensive Plan updates to their planning policies for Cherry Point. We're asking Whatcom County to: 
  • Extend the temporary moratorium until the Shoreline Master Plan is updated and until new development regulations are implemented. Additionally, add a moratorium on applications for any modification of piers, docks or wharfs in or adjacent to the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve.
  • Commence a legal study into Whatcom County's powers to prevent future development for coal, oil, and gas exports.
  • Strengthen policies in the Comprehensive Plan to limit new piers and restrict permits involving oil transport.
In spring 2017, the Whatcom County Council is working to update policies for the long-disputed Cherry Point amendments to the Comprehensive Plan. We support policies to:
  • Prevent piecemeal upgrades for oil exports by requiring Magnuson Amendment review of all permits that involve handling petroleum.
  • Block any new proposals for shipping piers in the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve.
  • Recognize Lummi Nation’s history and treaty-protected fishing rights.
  • Complete a legal study by December 2017.
With the lifting of the federal ban on crude oil export, the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) is a crucial law that protects the Puget Sound. But this law will not be enforced unless we demand it. Whatcom County must ensure that all permits involving crude oil or bitumen shipments must be reviewed to be lawful under the Magnuson Amendment to the MMPA. Read more on the Magnuson Amendment.


How you can help

  1. Send a comment to the Whatcom County Council. 
    Email council members and encourage them to extend the temporary moratorium on permits for fossil fuel export projects. View the talking points below.

  2. Attend the public hearing. 
    Speak out in support of extending the moratorium and strengthening policies in the Comprehensive Plan. Email us to RSVP for the public hearing at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, March 21st at Whatcom Council Chambers, 311 Grand Ave. in Bellingham. (mapPlease wear red.

  3. Attend our Clean Energy Activist Meeting.
    RSVP on Facebook for our monthly activist meeting from 6:30 - 8:30 PM on Monday, March 6th at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, 2309 Meridian St. in Bellingham. (map)


Talking points on the fossil fuel moratorium

Dear Whatcom County Council,

As a [insert city] resident and citizen of Whatcom County, I implore you to act to the full extent of your power to protect our community's health and safety, farms, fisheries and natural resources from the dangers of fossil fuel shipments by rail, pipeline and marine vessel. Cherry Point is a targeted route to export crude oil, tar sands, fracked gas, and propane from Canada, which would bring high risks of spills, leaks, explosions, pollution, traffic, a local tax burden, reduced property values, and the degradation of our quality of life.

I urge you to take the following actions, without delay:
  • Extend the temporary moratorium on permits for fossil fuel export projects until the Shoreline Master Plan is updated and until new development regulations are implemented. Additionally, please add a moratorium on applications for any modification of piers, docks, or wharfs in or adjacent to the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve.

  • Commence a legal study into Whatcom County's powers to prevent future development for coal, oil, and gas exports.

  • Strengthen policies in the Comprehensive Plan to prevent piecemeal upgrades for oil exports by requiring Magnuson Amendment review of all permits that involve handling petroleum; block any new proposals for shipping piers in the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve; recognize Lummi Nation’s history and treaty-protected fishing rights; and complete a legal study by December 2017.
I support your work to protect the ecological and cultural significance of Cherry Point. Thank you.



NEW: March 21 Hearing Update

It was a sea of red on Tuesday night, March 21st in council chambers. 
Thanks to you, the Whatcom County Council voted 6-1 to extend the moratorium on permits for unrefined fossil fuel export projects at Cherry Point.

Thanks and gratitude must also go to the council. They’ve put in a lot of overtime to make sure we end up with a strong Comprehensive Plan and they extended the moratorium with their vote. 

Please send a quick message of appreciation to our County Council. 

Let them know how much you appreciate their leadership and the time they have devoted to safeguarding our community. Email council@co.whatcom.wa.us or call 360-778-5010 to say thanks!