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Tell Whatcom County Council: Safeguard our communities, Cherry Point, and the Salish Sea

posted Jun 25, 2018, 1:45 PM by Simon Bakke   [ updated Jun 25, 2018, 1:59 PM ]
In a shocking move, Canada’s federal government recently announced it will purchase the Trans Mountain Pipeline from Texas giant Kinder Morgan, bailing out the stalled tar sands export expansion project for $4.5 billion in taxpayer dollars -- a project no other buyer wanted. 

While the battle against the Trans Mountain Expansion Pipeline rages on, Canada’s acquisition also includes the existing 64-year-old Puget Sound Pipeline that carries tar sands to all four refineries in Skagit and Whatcom Counties. It travels under the Nooksack River, and parts of Bellingham including Whatcom Falls Park.
Tar sands field in Alberta, Canada

Pipeline investor reports have marked Cherry Point as an alternative route for tar sands exports, raising the possibility of an oil terminal expansion in the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve, and another pipeline expansion across Whatcom County. That would mean more super-tankers passing around the San Juan Islands, bringing an increased risk of a catastrophic oil spill that could spell the end for salmon and orca populations.

That’s why we have to keep up the pressure on Whatcom County Council to safeguard our communities, Cherry Point, and the Salish Sea by enacting stronger laws and policies locally. 

Will you send a message to the Whatcom County Council today? Below is a template for you to adapt and send to council@co.whatcom.wa.us

We stand ready to do whatever it takes to safeguard our home and waters, indigenous rights, and iconic species like salmon and orca. Will you stand with us today? Thank you!

Template Letter: 

Honorable Councilmembers, 

[ADD personal note about why you are concerned and impacted by tar sands shipments]

Cherry Point is at risk again of becoming a transshipment point to load tankers with ‘tar sands’ heavy crude oil from Canada’s Trans Mountain (Puget Sound) Pipeline, which would increase the risk of an oil spill in endangered species’ habitat and on our beloved shorelines of the Salish Sea. 

I implore you to strengthen standards and conditions for project permits in the Cherry Point UGA, to protect our communities from the burden of risk and adverse impacts on health and safety from transporting heavy crude oil and other hazardous materials through Whatcom County. New facilities to ship coal, oil or gas should be prohibited, and existing facilities should be held to the highest standards for safety and pollution control. Permits for upgrades must require SEPA EIS review of cumulative impacts with a greenhouse gas life-cycle analysis, total mitigation of climate pollution, and conditions to require no adverse impacts on herring, salmon, orca, or other endangered species. 

In 2012, Whatcom County permitted two oil-by-rail unloading facilities which have brought near-daily shipments of >100-unit explosive tank cars through Bellingham and Ferndale, without requiring an environmental impacts study. Projects such as these highlight the inadequacy of County procedures to reasonably protect our communities from unacceptable hazards. 

Furthermore, it is a waste of county resources to process or approve project permits without prior federal authorization for compliance with treaty-protected tribal fishing rights and laws such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Please ensure that our tax dollars are not again wasted on reviewing and permitting unlawful projects, as was done for Gateway Pacific Terminal. 

Thank you for your hard work and diligence in service of our county,

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