Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Coal Terminal: Playing Defense

Don't count your bowling balls before they're hatched, Fred - Barney Rubble

Boy, these last few days have seen quite a spate of published articles related to the Proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal.
The former trickle is turning into a torrent, as citizens' interest has definitely been aroused!

Its good that the public has finally gotten pretty engaged in this discussion, which is now also bringing into question what our State and National policies should reflect in matters involving energy and environment, and not just 'jobs'.
Jobs certainly matter a great deal, but every job is not necessarily very desirable or sustainable for everyone, is it?

Think about migrant workers, menial laborers and service workers of all sorts, and all manner of below minimum wage employment. These do fill some needs and help people survive, and of course they also save us from paying the real costs on many goods and services, but they are not anywhere close to 'livable wage' jobs - which are in great demand and scarce.
So, we have to be careful about what is meant by 'jobs'.
Not all are created equal.

But, back to the real GPT issue; several more articles have appeared today, some covering similar aspects of this issue that have been previously reported. The main difference with these more recent reports is that they further expand our understanding as an integral part of a much larger picture, plus a little corporate graffiti thrown in, meant to distract us from honest discourse.

For example, today's Herald story fits our local issue into the arena of National policy and its global implications. Do we get to claim concern over increased use of non-renewable resources, while allowing -and actually facilitating their export elsewhere?
That's called double-speak at best and other epithets at worst.

Rather than dumbing down the conversation to for & against jobs, the emphasis ought to be on what kind of jobs, how many, and how much value-added content can be incorporated into our exports.

The Herald's Political Blog carried this tardy AFTER THE FACT admission from SSA Marine that it 'had made a mistake'. That's not very comforting is it? If it doesn't enhance my confidence in SSA Marine's ability to get small, preliminary work done, what does it say about their ability -or commitment - to responsibly manage the impacts of a huge export terminal?

At some point, 'mea culpas' aren't nearly enough! That point is now past.

Today's Cascadia Weekly Gristle echoes the Herald Blog, averring SSA Marine has some 'splainin' to do.

But, The Weekly's Lead article is even more troubling since it indicates a persistent attitude of non-cooperation seems to pervade SSA, leading to the undoing of a negotiated agreement with several public interest groups, including Whatcom County, the Washington State Dept of Natural Resources and about a dozen other groups.

You know, if SSA Marine has thumbed its nose at an agreement designed to protect our own natural resources, why should we believe they will act as good corporate citizens once trainloads of coal descend on our community to load mega ships from somewhere else?

Seems to me that trust and good will must be earned and not just arbitrarily dismissed! Maybe SSA just thinks they have the power to impose their will on us, the public? That strategy doesn't work very well around here!

SSA is acting like a bunch of neanderthals who not only want to throw rocks at people, but sell them to other neanderthals as well. And all this time, I had hoped humans had evolved beyond that mentality!

Guess I watched too many cartoon figures like Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, while I should have been reading more Sun Tzu: 'Invincibility lies in the defence; the possibility of victory in the attack'. and maybe Von Clausewitz.

This afternoon again produced several more articles, including these:

• The Bellingham Herald reports on a curious telephone 'survey', that I also received on Monday.

• Another Herald report tells us that Whatcom County has fined SSA $2400 for the costs of investigating previous wetlands clearing misdeeds on their Cherry Point property.

• Yet a third Herald article reports that Skagit County has also decided to get involved with the GPT issue.

• From Bob Simmons at Crosscut is this corroboration of SSA's admission? of 'mistakes'.

So, from a late-blooming summer, the temperature has now risen considerably, both literally and figuratively.
'Bout time!

I'll hold off on more updates at least until morning.
Have a good read or two.
Offense sells tickets, Defense wins championships