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March 3, 2017: BNSF Railway required to clean up coal train pollution

posted Mar 3, 2017, 2:38 PM by Virginia Cleaveland   [ updated Mar 6, 2017, 3:04 PM by RE Sources for Sustainable Communities ]

Settlement of Clean Water Act case means coal and petcoke must be removed from several sections of the Columbia River. 


BNSF Railway (BNSF) will be forced to pay for the cleanup of Pacific Northwest waterways that were polluted for decades by coal or petroleum coke (“petcoke”) emitted from their open-topped train cars.

A finalized consent decree lodged with U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour today brings to a close a Clean Water Act case brought against BNSF by a coalition of environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Puget Soundkeeper, Columbia Riverkeeper, Spokane Riverkeeper, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Friends of the Columbia Gorge. 

During the week-long November 2016 trial, scientists testified that a million or more coal particles per second come off of each rail car, dumping mercury, arsenic, and hundreds of other pollutants into rivers, lakes and oceans along BNSF rail lines. Eyewitnesses also recounted being pelted by coal from passing trains while recreating or driving along waterways.

As part of the settlement, BNSF agreed to pay for a precedent-setting study about rail car covers for coal and petcoke train cars that puts the rail operator on a court-ordered path toward keeping coal and petcoke out of sensitive water bodies.

The settlement also requires BNSF to pay $1 million for environmental projects across the state of Washington, focused on projects in the Bellingham, Puget Sound, Columbia River and Spokane River areas. BNSF will also clean up the following areas of the Columbia River and its tributaries that have been littered with large amounts of coal and petcoke from BNSF trains:
  • Horsethief Lake 
  • Drano Lake Rail Bridge and parking area
  • White Salmon River and its confluence with the Columbia River
  • Confluence of Rock Creek and the Columbia River
  • Causeway near Murdock, WA
Environmental groups that brought the suit are celebrating the settlement:

"BNSF Railway spent decades downplaying the fact that coal from their trains was polluting some the most ecologically and culturally important waterways of the Pacific Northwest," said Cesia Kearns, Deputy Regional Campaign Director for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign. "This settlement finally forces BNSF to take responsibility for their impact on our water, clean up the mess they made and take steps to prevent similar pollution in the future."

“Our public waters are not dumping grounds for coal and toxic pollutants,” said Chris Wilke, Puget Soundkeeper Executive Director. “This settlement rightfully places the burden of cleaning up contamination from coal trains with the company responsible for the pollution, and it will also lead the way in affirming technologies to prevent coal from entering waterways in the future.”

"When dealing with corporations like BNSF, we as citizens must use every tool in our toolbox to ensure polluters — no matter how large or powerful — are being held accountable for contaminating our shared water resources. Owning their responsibility for the pollution they produce is simply the cost of doing business,” said Lee First, North Sound Baykeeper at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. "In the North Puget Sound, we will never back down from fighting to protect the cleanliness of our water — even if it means taking on multi billion dollar companies in court."

This public health threat of BNSF’s coal trains would be exacerbated by Millennium Bulk Terminals’ proposal to build the largest coal export terminal in North America in Longview, Washington, bringing up to eight additional fully loaded train cars a day travelling along BNSF lines between Longview and the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana. Millennium has appealed a decision by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to reject a sublease needed for the project. The Army Corps of Engineers’ Final Environmental Impact Study on the project is expected in June.

The plaintiffs are represented by Charlie Tebbutt, Dan Snyder, and Sarah Matsumoto, The Law Offices of Charles M. Tebbutt, PC; Jessica Yarnall Loarie, Sierra Club; Andrea Rodgers, Western Environmental Law Center, David Pettit and Morgan Wyenn, Natural Resources Defense Council; and Nathan Baker, Friends of the Columbia Gorge.

Media contact: Crina Hoyer, Executive Director, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, crinah@re-sources.org, 360-223-8678

February 21, 2017: Environmental groups challenge Ecology’s new permits for industrial dairies

posted Feb 21, 2017, 10:56 AM by Virginia Cleaveland   [ updated Mar 2, 2017, 3:40 PM by RE Sources for Sustainable Communities ]

On Feb. 17, 2017, a coalition of environmental groups filed an appeal with the Washington state Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB) challenging the Department of Ecology’s waste discharge permits for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). 

The appeal alleges the permits fail to include basic water quality monitoring requirements and fail to require best-available technology for CAFOs such as synthetic manure lagoon liners, which prevent pollution from manure leaking into groundwater. The appeal also alleges the permits lack necessary standards to ensure compliance with state and federal water quality laws: the state-only permit authorizes groundwater discharges and removes the power granted to citizens under federal law to defend their clean water rights if dangerous pollution from CAFOs threatens water quality. 

Uncovered piles of manure at a cattle CAFO in Yakima County, Washington in July 2016.

According to the appealing groups, Ecology’s new permits fail to prevent the four major sources of pollution from CAFOs: land application, manure lagoons, compost areas, and animal pens. The permits authorize CAFOs to discharge into groundwater, which threatens the drinking water that many communities depend on. The permits also failed to address the thousands of public comments Ecology received asking for permits that prioritize human health and clean water.

CAFOs, or large industrial feedlots, generate more than 26 million of pounds of manure each day in Washington state. The manure, which contains nitrates, fecal coliform bacteria, and other pollutants, is often over-applied, untreated, directly to farmland, or is stored in unlined manure lagoons that are known to leak.

Overapplication of manure and leaking lagoons can release pollution into surface water and groundwater, causing serious public health issues and threatening industries dependent on clean water, like shellfish farmers. Swimming beach closures and shellfish bed closures are frequently the result of water quality problems resulting from high levels of fecal coliform. The over-application of manure has been linked to contamination of drinking water due to high levels of nitrates. In Washington State, more than three-quarters of pollution cleanup funds between 2005 and 2013 were used to clean up waters contaminated by agriculture.

Ecology’s new permits — a state-only permit for CAFOs that discharge to groundwater, and a combined state/federal permit for CAFOs that discharge to surface water — were issued a full five years after the former permit expired.

The coalition, represented in the appeal by the Western Environmental Law Center and the Law Offices of Charles M. Tebbutt, includes national organizations Center for Food Safety, Waterkeeper Alliance, and Sierra Club; Yakima Valley organizations Community Association for Restoration of the Environment (CARE) and Friends of Toppenish Creek; and Puget Sound organizations Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and RE Sources for Sustainable Communities.

“Every resident of Washington has a right to clean water,” said Chris Wilke, Puget Soundkeeper. “By removing the power granted in the Clean Water Act for individuals and communities to defend their waterways, this permit tramples on those rights and sets a precedent that dangerous pollution can occur without consequence. It’s inexcusable to put public health at risk when there are known solutions to the problem.”

“The courts have been our only bastion of hope and ability to affect positive change,” said Helen Reddout, president of CARE, which has been working to highlight the issue since the 1990s. “It is now time for the state courts to step up to protect our communities.” As a resident of the lower Yakima Valley, Reddout’s own well is contaminated with nitrates from manure pollution.

“Sixty percent of the wells within a mile of a cluster of Yakima County CAFO dairies are unsafe for drinking,” said Jean Mendoza, executive director at Friends of Toppenish Creek in Yakima County. “The people who use these domestic wells (groundwater) would be unaware of the problem if not for litigation that has been brought under federal laws. Citizen lawsuits are the best way to protect public health from CAFO pollution. The new dual permit eliminates that option.”

“We applaud a small group of farmers who recently formed the Portage Bay Partnership and are taking necessary steps to help clean up fecal coliform pollution in our local waters,” said Ann Russell, Clean Water Program manager at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities in Whatcom County. “But when a state agency responsible for protecting human health fails to adequately regulate the dangerous impacts from industries, it is our duty to demand stronger permits that protect drinking water and shellfish beds.”

“Ecology has spent six years drafting a new waste discharge permit for CAFOs and unfortunately the agency has still not written something that protects the waters of Washington," said Andrea Rodgers, attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center. “Fortunately, citizens can turn to the courts when agencies don’t comply with their statutory obligations to protect public health and the environment.”

“The permit is as irresponsible as it is unlawful,” said George Kimbrell, attorney with the Center for Food Safety. “The communities and environments being damaged by these industrial animal factories deserve protection, and we are going to court to get it.”

“For well over a decade, Ecology has been acutely aware of the dangers manure pollution poses to people and the environment, yet it continues to put profits for the few over the good of the many,” said Charlie Tebbutt, long-time attorney for impacted communities. “Ecology’s continuing refusal to protect people despite the mountain of evidence is truly shameful.”

“Ecology disregarded the law and issued a permit that actually authorizes untreated animal waste to be discharged into Washington’s waters,” said Kelly Hunter Foster, senior attorney for Waterkeeper Alliance. “This is dangerous, and Ecology knows that, but the agency chose to shield industry instead of protecting public health.”

Under the administrative appeal process, citizen groups have the right to challenge final agency actions and rules to ensure that regulations adequately protect public resources and comply with the law. The groups seek rewritten permits that comply with the law and protect public waterways and water resources.

Media contact: Virginia Cleaveland, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, 360-733-8307 x217, virginiac@re-sources.org

North Cascades Audubon Society offers free educational series “Marine Birds of the Salish Sea”

posted Feb 10, 2017, 2:58 PM by Virginia Cleaveland   [ updated Feb 10, 2017, 3:04 PM ]

Participants will learn about physical features, behaviors, and history of more than 30 bird species in the Salish Sea.

Marine bird experts will host a free educational series “Marine Birds of the Salish Sea” from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, February 22-23, at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, 2309 Meridian St., Bellingham. The event is sponsored by North Cascades Audubon Society in collaboration with RE Sources for Sustainable Communities and the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee.

The two-part series — taught by Caanan Cowles, a biologist with more than a decade of experience researching seabirds in the Salish Sea, and Pam Borso, president of North Cascades Audubon Society — will teach participants about physical characteristics of more than 30 species, their behavior, and interesting facts about their histories. Participants are encouraged to attend both classes. Previous class participants are welcome to attend.

After the classes, participants will have the opportunity to go on a birding tour led by North Cascades Audubon Society. The field trip time and date will be decided during the class.

North Cascades Audubon Society has been conducting surveys of marine birds for several years at Cherry Point. The series is intended to increase awareness of marine birds and the reasons the North Cascades Audubon Society monitors them.

North Cascades Audubon Society also hosts monthly guided birding tours from 9 a.m. to noon the first Saturday of the month at Semiahmoo Park, 9261 Semiahmoo Pkwy, Blaine.

To register for the event, email Lyle Anderson at lyleand2@comcast.net or call 360-739-9249. For more information, visit northcascadesaudubon.org/calendar/

Media Contacts:
Lyle Anderson, North Cascades Audubon Society, lyleand2@comcast.net, 360-739-9249
Virginia Cleaveland, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, virginiac@re-sources.org, 360-733-8307

Since 1970, the North Cascades Audubon Society has represented the interests and importance of wildlife, habitat and the environment in Whatcom County. Through scientific research, environmental education, stewardship and advocacy, NCAS provides a variety of services and opportunities for members and the public to engage with the natural world. northcascadesaudubon.org

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the health of Northwest Washington’s people and ecosystems through the application of science, education, advocacy, and action. re-sources.org

The Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee increases public awareness and enjoyment of the Reserve and assists the Department of Natural Resource’s Aquatic Reserve Program to successfully implement the Reserve’s management plan. aquaticreserves.org

January 24, 2017: Audubon Society director to give talk on oil spill prevention and preparedness, risks facing Salish Sea

posted Jan 24, 2017, 1:25 PM by Virginia Cleaveland   [ updated Jan 24, 2017, 1:28 PM ]

Director of bird conservation for Audubon’s Gulf Coast and Mississippi Flyway helped lead organization through 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. 


Melanie Driscoll, the National Audubon Society’s director of bird conservation for the Gulf Coast and Mississippi Flyway, will discuss oil spill prevention and preparedness and the risks facing vulnerable communities of the Salish Sea during a talk from 7-9 p.m. on Wednesday, February 15th, at the Whatcom Museum Rotunda Room in Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St., Bellingham. The event is co-sponsored by North Cascades Audubon Society and RE Sources for Sustainable Communities.

During the talk, “Deepwater Horizon disaster: How oil spills affect local people and wildlife,” Driscoll will share her thoughts on the need for prevention of oil spills, preparedness for an organization to find a role in the event of a major spill, and the particular risks facing Native Americans and other vulnerable communities in the Salish Sea.

Driscoll’s perspective comes from her involvement in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster and subsequent years of response and restoration efforts, and the spill’s effects on wildlife, the environment, and local communities.

During the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Driscoll initiated wildlife survey efforts and provided biological interpretation regarding the relief effort to media, the public, and the environmental community. She also led Audubon’s conservation planning in response to the disaster and initiated their volunteer response effort. Driscoll has worked with Audubon since 2006.

For more information about the event, visit re-sources.org/events.

Media Contacts: Steven Harper, North Cascades Audubon Society, info@northcascadesaudubon.org, 360-650-9065
Virginia Cleaveland, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, virginiac@re-sources.org, 360-733-8307

Since 1970, the North Cascades Audubon Society has represented the interests and importance of wildlife, habitat and the environment in Whatcom County. Through scientific research, environmental education, stewardship and advocacy, NCAS provides a variety of services and opportunities for members and the public to engage with the natural world. northcascadesaudubon.org

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the health of Northwest Washington’s people and ecosystems through the application of science, education, advocacy, and action. re-sources.org

January 20, 2017: “Washington Goes Solar!” campaign makes it easy for homeowners and businesses to take advantage of solar incentives

posted Jan 24, 2017, 1:23 PM by Virginia Cleaveland   [ updated Jan 24, 2017, 1:27 PM ]

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities launches campaign in partnership with local businesses Ecotech Solar, Itek Energy.



RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, in partnership with Ecotech Solar and Itek Energy, are launching a “Washington Goes Solar!” campaign now through April 30th to help residents of Washington state take advantage of state and federal incentives to install solar arrays on their homes or businesses.

The campaign, which offers informational workshops with industry experts and a free site assessment from solar panel installers, will help guide participants through the entire process of going solar at their home or business.

“Washington Goes Solar! offers community members easy access to solar experts and a streamlined process toward positive action that helps Washington state transition to a clean energy economy,” said Hannah Coughlin, Washington Goes Solar! campaign manager. “RE Sources has been advocating for healthy, resilient communities within Washington since 1982, and it’s important for us to provide these positive opportunities to our communities.

To participate, residents must attend one of four free workshops held in Bellingham by April 30th. Workshops dates are:
  • Tuesday, February 7th, 4:30 - 6:30 PM 
  • Saturday, February 11th, 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM 
  • Thursday, April 13th, 4:30 - 6:30 PM 
  • Wednesday, April 26th, 5:30 - 7:30 PM 
The workshops will help participants save time researching complicated state and federal incentives, and provide valuable information from industry experts in a fun atmosphere and easy-to-understand format. Beer, wine, and food will be provided. Interested homeowners or business building owners can sign up for workshops online at washingtongoessolar.org.

For every resident who participates in the Washington Goes Solar! campaign, Ecotech Solar and Itek Energy will generously donate a solar panel to be installed at The RE Store in Bellingham.

“Going solar saves you money, adds value to your property, helps the environment, and supports local businesses,” according to Coughlin. “As an added bonus, it also helps your favorite center for re-use projects and recycled building materials switch to renewable energy. Go solar before April 30th, and The RE Store will go solar with you!”

For more information, email solar@re-sources.org, call 360-733-8307 ext. 206, or visit washingtongoessolar.org.

Media Contact: Hannah Coughlin, solar@re-sources.org, (360) 733-8307 ext. 206

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the health of northwest Washington’s people and ecosystems through the application of science, education, advocacy, and action. For more information, visit re-sources.org.

The RE Store is a program of RE Sources for Sustainable Communities that sells reclaimed building materials and vintage décor, and provides building salvage services. In 2016, the RE Store diverted 700,000 pounds of materials from the waste stream and salvaged reusable materials from 800 sites. For more information, visit re-store.org.

January 5, 2017: RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Students for the Salish Sea host beach cleanup at Semiahmoo Spit

posted Jan 5, 2017, 5:00 PM by RE Sources for Sustainable Communities   [ updated Jan 5, 2017, 5:01 PM ]

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities’ AmeriCorps-Washington Service Corps member and Western Washington University club Students for the Salish Sea are hosting a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Of Service beach cleanup at Semiahmoo Spit to remove trash and large debris from the beach.

“Every MLK Day, thousands of AmeriCorps service members celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. by carrying on his legacy of promoting service to others,” said Lindsey Gard, the AmeriCorps-Washington Service Corps member at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. “Let us remember Dr. King’s courageous acts of standing up for injustices in his community by showing solidarity with the communities of the Salish Sea.”

The cleanup is from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Monday, January 16th, at Semiahmoo Spit. Participants should meet in the public parking lot at Semiahmoo Park off Semiahmoo Parkway (map). Participants are encouraged to carpool to the event.

The cleanup is appropriate for all ages. Light snacks and equipment will be supplied, but volunteers are encouraged to bring work gloves and 5-gallon plastic buckets. Registration is not required. Questions: Email Lindsey Gard at lindseyg@re-sources.org.

The cleanup is in support of “Stand for the Salish Sea” event coordinated by FRIENDS of the San Juans highlighting the regional opposition to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project, which would bring 7 tankers a week through the Salish Sea.

"Our beaches are crucial to supporting ocean health — they provide habitat for important wildlife that lives in the ocean and on land,” said Sarah Sasek, Students for the Salish Sea coordinator. “Volunteer efforts to clean up our local beaches and waterways are opportunities to fulfill our sacred obligation to the Salish Sea and to our home. Everyone can engage in the movement for trash-free seas.”

Media Contact: Lindsey Gard, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, lindseyg@re-sources.org, 360-733-8307

December 29, 2016: Lummi Nation to discuss water quality monitoring program at Tenmile Clean Water Project meeting

posted Dec 29, 2016, 6:06 PM by Virginia Cleaveland

Natural Resources Department staff will present on long-time program monitoring surface and ground water, status of Portage Bay shellfish beds.

A specialist with the Lummi Nation’s Natural Resources Department will present on a long-time program monitoring surface and ground water and the status of Portage Bay shellfish beds during a monthly public meeting of the Tenmile Clean Water Project from 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM on Wednesday, January 11th, at Bellewood Acres, 6140 Guide Meridian, Lynden. The public is encouraged to attend.

The Tenmile Clean Water Project is a citizen group working to lower fecal coliform bacteria levels in Tenmile, Fourmile, and Deer Creeks, to help these lowland Nooksack River tributaries meet water quality criteria. The group is coordinated by RE Sources for Sustainable Communities.

The Lummi Nation has undertaken an ongoing surface and ground water quality monitoring program since 1993. The purpose of the program is to document baseline conditions of Lummi Nation Waters and evaluate compliance with Lummi Nation Surface Water Quality Standards. Hanna Winter, Water Resources Specialist I at the Lummi Nation’s Natural Resources Department, will be the presenter.

The Lummi Nation Water Resources Division collects water quality data from 62 surface water sites and 34 groundwater sites. The primary water quality concern for surface waters is fecal coliform contamination and the subsequent closure of shellfish growing areas in Portage Bay. The primary concern for ground water is saltwater intrusion and ground water mining. The Lummi Nation Water Quality Monitoring Program aims to protect sensitive shellfish growing areas on Tribal tidelands, freshwater habitats, and drinking water sources (i.e. groundwater).

Tenmile Clean Water Project public meetings take place at Bellewood Acres on the second Wednesday of each month. More information about the Tenmile Clean Water Project can be found at re-sources.org/tenmile-creek.

Media Contact: Lee First, North Sound Baykeeper, leef@re-sources.org, 360-733-8307

December 19, 2016: RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Students for the Salish Sea host New Year's Day beach cleanup at Locust Beach

posted Dec 21, 2016, 12:31 PM by RE Sources for Sustainable Communities   [ updated Dec 21, 2016, 12:31 PM ]


RE Sources for Sustainable Communities’ North Sound Baykeeper and Western Washington University club Students for the Salish Sea are hosting a New Year’s Day beach cleanup at Locust Beach to remove trash and large debris from the beach.

“Recent winter storms have deposited large debris on the beach, including derelict fishing nets,” says Lee First, North Sound Baykeeper at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. “Because of its location and the direction of prevailing winds, Locust Beach receives debris from all directions, including lots of small plastic from the city’s stormwater discharges.”

The cleanup is from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 1, 2017, at Locust Beach. The trailhead to the beach is located at the dead end of Locust Avenue, off Marine Drive in Bellingham. Parking is available in a public lot on the north side of the street (map).

“Marine debris is a major concern because it constantly accumulates in our ocean. Beach cleanups are a way we can all pitch in to help reduce our impacts on the ocean. Not only does this help to decrease pollution, but also increases aesthetic value of our local beaches,” said Sarah Sasek, Students for the Salish Sea coordinator.

The cleanup is appropriate for all ages. Light snacks and equipment will be supplied, but volunteers are encouraged to bring work gloves and 5-gallon plastic buckets. Registration is not required. 

Media Contacts: Lee First, North Sound Baykeeper, leef@re-sources.org, (360) 733-8307
Sarah Sasek, Students for the Salish Sea, studentsforthesalishsea@gmail.com, (616) 914-4849

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the health of Northwest Washington’s people and ecosystems through the application of science, education, advocacy, and action. The North Sound Baykeeper is charged with protecting and enhancing the marine and nearshore habitats of the northern Puget Sound region. For more information, visit re-sources.org.

Students for the Salish Sea is a club at Western Washington University that supports the restoration of the Salish Sea bioregional watershed. For more information, visit Students for the Salish Sea on Facebook.

November 15, 2016: BNSF Railway required to address coal train pollution

posted Nov 15, 2016, 3:11 PM by Virginia Cleaveland   [ updated Nov 15, 2016, 3:12 PM ]

Agreement in principle requires study of coal train covers, $1 million in environmental restoration plus coal cleanup. 


A coalition of environmental organizations and BNSF Railway (BNSF) have reached an agreement in principle that will ensure that BNSF starts to clean up and prevent pollution from their coal trains.

The agreement, which is expected to be finalized as a court order in the next 60 days, will put on hold the ongoing trial until a final agreement is reached, and includes several requirements that will protect the health of Washington’s waterways:
  • A two-year study, funded by BNSF, into methods for covering coal trains. 
  • $1 million for conservation or restoration projects in Washington. 
  • Clean up and removal of coal and/or petcoke at specific areas near water bodies most affected by BNSF coal trains. 
Plaintiffs put on testimony over the course of the weeklong trial in Seattle that included multiple eyewitnesses to coal pollution and expert testimony that a million or more coal particles per second come off of each rail car. A coalition of environmental groups — Sierra Club, Puget Soundkeeper, Columbia Riverkeeper, Spokane Riverkeeper, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Friends of the Columbia Gorge — sued BNSF in 2013 under the federal Clean Water Act.

Environmental organizations praised the agreement in principle as a step toward protecting the health of Puget Sound, the Columbia River and other Washington state waterways:

"This is a win for Washington state residents who live, work, and play in the state's waterways," said Cesia Kearns, Deputy Regional Campaign Director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. "For decades, coal from BNSF trains has been polluting our rivers, lakes, and seas. This agreement recognizes that and holds BNSF accountable for its impact on our communities' health and environment."

"We are pleased that BNSF will seek to cover its dirty coal trains and clean up the pollution they've already spilled," said Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director of Columbia Riverkeeper. "It’s the simple solution.The railroad is not above the law."

“Once again, the Clean Water Act has made it possible for citizens to address major issues threatening Washington waters,” said Crina Hoyer, Executive Director of RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. "We are pleased that organizations across the state were successful in achieving our goal of forcing BNSF to clean up existing coal pollution, and to stop the ongoing pollution of our waterways. The coal car study is the first step toward seeing toxic cargo, like coal, sealed and covered for transport. This is a win for clean water and a win for our communities.”

“This agreement in principle sends a strong message that our public waters are not dumping grounds for toxic coal and other material, and it affirms the crucial role of citizen enforcement in protecting our waterways.” said Chris Wilke, Executive Director of Puget Soundkeeper Alliance. “Now, instead of externalizing their pollution as a cost of doing business, BNSF must take steps to repair the damage to our waterways and advance technologies to ensure that in the future, coal from their trains does not contaminate public resources.”

“We now have an agreement in principle with BNSF that should lead to an end to coal pollution in the Columbia River Gorge and cleanup of coal along the Columbia River,” said Michael Lang, conservation director for Friends of the Columbia Gorge. “Importantly, the court will retain jurisdiction to ensure that the terms of the agreement are enforced.” 

Media contact: Crina Hoyer, Executive Director, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, (360) 733-8307, crinah@re-sources.org

The plaintiffs are represented by Charlie Tebbutt, Dan Snyder, and Sarah Matsumoto, The Law Offices of Charles M. Tebbutt, PC; Jessica Yarnall Loarie, Sierra Club; Andrea Rodgers, Western Environmental Law Center, David Pettit and Morgan Wyenn, Natural Resources Defense Council; and Nathan Baker, Friends of the Columbia Gorge.

October 12, 2016: Cherry Point Forum focuses on climate change impacts to the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve

posted Oct 13, 2016, 1:13 PM by Virginia Cleaveland   [ updated Oct 14, 2016, 10:50 AM ]

Citizen Stewardship Committee hosts October 22 forum with presentations on citizen science, ocean acidification, forage fish, and warming climates. 


The Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee is hosting its annual Cherry Point Forum from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 22, at Bellingham Technical College, Building G, Room 102J, at 3028 Lindbergh Ave. in Bellingham. 

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provide staff support to the volunteer-led committee.

This year’s forum will include speakers presenting on topics related to climate change impacts to the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve.

Located in Whatcom County, the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve is one of eight Aquatic Reserves in the state. Established by DNR on state-owned aquatic lands in Puget Sound, Aquatic Reserves include important biodiversity and aquatic habitat critical to Salish Sea health.

Cherry Point Forum speakers and topics are:
  • “Warming Climates in the Pacific Northwest: Are We Experiencing a Dress Rehearsal of the New Normal?” by Nick Bond (University of Washington, Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean)

  • “Sea Star Wasting Syndrome and How Citizen Science Helps Identify Climate Change Impacts in the Salish Sea” by Melissa Miner (MARINe) and Eleanor Hines (RE Sources for Sustainable Communities)

  • “Stuck in the Middle: The Ecology, Knowledge Gaps or Misunderstandings, and Issues Surrounding Forage Fish” by Evelyn Brown (Lummi Nation Natural Resources Department)

  • “Ocean Acidification in Nearshore Habitats of Washington State” by Micah Horwith (Washington State DNR, Aquatic Resources Division)
The Cherry Point Forum is free and open to the public. Coffee and tea is provided, and attendees can either bring $5 for pizza or their own sack lunch. Participants are encouraged to help make this a waste-free event by bringing their own coffee mug and plate/utensils.

More information

For more information or to RSVP (encouraged but not required), contact Eleanor Hines at ehines@re-sources.org or 360-733-8307 x213.

For a schedule and background information about the speakers, visit re-sources.org/cherrypointforum.

To RSVP on Facebook, visit facebook.com/events/1285374178171436

Media contacts: Eleanor Hines, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, eleanorh@re-sources.org, 360-733-8307 x213
Kathleen Jacobson, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, kathleen.jacobson@dnr.wa.gov, 360-902-1000

The Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee formed to increase public awareness and enjoyment of the Aquatic Reserve and assist DNR’s Aquatic Reserve Program to successfully implement the Aquatic Reserve’s management plan. The committee conducts scientific monitoring projects, performs education and outreach activities, and monitors actions in and around the reserve that may impact the ecosystem. For more information, visit aquaticreserves.org.

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the health of Northwest Washington’s people and ecosystems through the application of science, education, advocacy, and action. For more information, visit re-sources.org.

Washington State Department of Natural Resources established the Aquatic Reserves Program promotes the preservation, restoration, and enhancement of state-owned aquatic lands that are of special educational, scientific, or environmental interest. For more information, visit dnr.wa.gov.

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