Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Coal Terminal: Mayor's Listening Session

For those interested, here is a summary of the brief remarks I gave earlier at tonight's meeting:

Two broad points pertain, which touch on several of the elements of EIS impact categories listed for reference on the screen.

First, this proposal should NOT be framed as either JOBS or QUALITY OF LIFE.
It is a much more complex decision than that simplistic characterization.

As Ben Franklin actually put it; 'Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.'

[I substituted the words prosperity for safety, and environment for liberty.
But, essentially the same point is made]

Second, SAFETY is the real issue, just like it was 12 years ago, with the Olympic Pipe Line disaster.

Then, people spoke, and government listened, despite the City of Bellingham's lack of specific 'jurisdiction'.
Many necessary changes were effected afterwards -in Federal, State and Local laws and regulations.

Unfortunately, the OPL disaster had to actually happen before concerned citizens were heard.

The Coal Terminal proposal carries with it the distinct possibility -maybe even the probability- that a similar disaster could occur.
That makes this EIS drafting time critical to the prevention of future catastrophes, whether a cataclysmic single event, or a series of cumulatively harmful events, either of which will be impossible to mitigate after-the-fact -like Bhopal.

Aspects of SAFETY which ought to be carefully considered include these:

• SAFETY for humans and wildlife along the rail lines, at crossings and/or near habitats and sensitive areas

• SAFETY of our precious waters from shipping traffic [Note that the 2 coal terminals in Norfolk and Newport News, VA require thousands of acres for marshaling and loading operations, plus deep water anchorages for between 10 and 20 large coal carrying ships.

• SAFETY of investments in both public and private properties near the routes in question

• SAFETY of public expectations in waterfront redevelopment visioning, plans and potential job-producing development

• SAFETY of our shared, global environs from multiple, unnecessary degradations and depletion of natural resources

At a minimum, a comprehensive and careful proposal that addresses these legitimate concerns needs to be submitted by the proponents, outlining those mitigation modifications reasonably required.
Not until this type of proposal is available for additional public review and comment, should any go/no go decision for action be made.

After all, the principles of triple bottom line need to be respected and followed as is reasonably possible.
Trust does require verification!