On Tuesday, August 9, 2016, the Whatcom County Council unanimously approved a 60-day emergency moratorium to immediately suspend approval of any proposed projects that could facilitate shipment of unrefined oil, coal or gas through Whatcom County. The move temporarily prevents permitting for new projects that would allow the shipment or export of crude oil, coal, or liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Cherry Point. The emergency moratorium was put into place while the county finalizes a Comprehensive Plan update that will inform future zoning regulation changes that could prevent permits for new projects facilitating the export of crude oil, coal, or fracked gases.
Cherry Point is home to two oil refineries (BP and Phillips 66), a liquid petroleum gas (LPG) processing and export facility (PetroGas), and three pipelines that carry crude oil, natural gas, and refined petroleum products.
In response, environmental organizations RE Sources for Sustainable Communities and Stand issued the following statements:
“The oil and gas industry have targeted Cherry Point and Whatcom County as a sacrifice zone in their plans to export unrefined extreme oil, dirty coal and gas overseas. Tonight, our County Council sent a powerful message that Whatcom County won’t be a waystation for pipelines and deadly coal and oil trains. We choose public safety, we choose a just and swift transition to clean energy. We also choose climate stability — coal and oil industry plans for Cherry Point would have caused twice the amount of carbon pollution that the entire state of Washington currently emits.“ —Matt Krogh, Stand.earth, extreme oil campaign director
“Today, citizens along the thousands of miles of rail lines, tanker routes, and pipeline routes to Cherry Point are celebrating this bold leadership by our County Council. Whatcom County will not be responsible for an increase in explosive oil train traffic. Instead, our county sets the precedent that local governments can, and must, become leaders in protecting the health of their citizens by stopping dirty, dangerous coal, crude oil and liquefied natural gas export projects and promoting a shift to clean, renewable industries of the future.” —Matt Petryni, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, clean energy program manager
“The lesson we learned from Mosier is that when it comes to oil trains — nobody is safe. Thousands of people in Whatcom County — from concerned parents to firefighters, doctors, and fishermen — demanded action against the special interests of Dirty Coal and Big Oil. Today, our County Council answered that call. Our actions are working, and our representatives are responding. We must keep the momentum going and ensure that every community facing unrefined coal, crude oil and liquefied natural gas export proposals can do what Whatcom County did today.” —Crina Hoyer, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, executive director
Media contacts: Virginia Cleaveland, RE Sources, email@example.com, 360-733-8307 ext. 217 or Eddie Scher, Stand.earth, firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-815-7027