Thursday, August 4, 2011

Coal Terminal:Whatcom Watch Remembers Cherry Point Agreement

If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development. - Aristotle
One of our local treasures, the monthly publication known as Whatcom Watch, has archives that serve as a valuable institutional memory for folks who can't remember, or never knew anyway, about key environmental issues. A recent blog contains links to Whatcom Watch articles by Preston Schiller and Marie Hitchman. The Hitchman article, in turn references earlier articles as described following.

For example, the contentious Cherry Point issue that has recently demanded our attention, isn't really that new. It's roots go back before many current citizens even lived here. The December 1998 issue of Whatcom Watch contained two or three articles that captured the flavor of that time around the issue of how to utilize Cherry Point while preserving its surrounding environs.

Another salient archive is the first article here, also authored by Dave Schmalz in the August/September 1999 issue. It has to do with chronicling a settlement between multiple parties and SSA, which require 18 months to reach. The object was to focus on the one additional marine loading pier that might be permitted at Cherry Point, with special emphasis on safeguarding the shoreline and connected ecologies.

The parties did come agreement on several points, but that is now moot because SSA has decided to unilaterally terminate its part of this good faith effort. Why did they do this? Because they felt -knew- it would interfere with their current plans to build a much larger loading wharf to handle coal -48 million tons of it every year.
Is that OK with you?
Do you even have a voice in the matter?
Those are the questions that SSA would rather not be asked.

Maybe their latest unauthorized clearing and grading of access roads through known wetlands illustrate their preferred method of just doing things because they want to, then accepting a minimal slap on the wrist for it?
This Get Whatcom Planning blog wonders what mitigation might be required to retroactively repair the damage done.

Reading the Whatcom Watch article written by Dave Schmalz in the August/September 1999 issue summarizes what was agreed to back then, and who the parties to the agreement were.
Strange how all the parties, with the sole exception of SSA, want the essence of that agreement to remain in effect.
Maybe it also needs strengthening, too, especially in light of the current, much different SSA proposal.
Also, more stringent regulations have subsequently been adopted to more certainly protect our shorelines and critical areas.

Or, maybe you are one of those who think SSA's original scheme is somehow magically vested, and therefore exempt from further review?
That notion is a pipe dream that could easily turn into a nightmare, and probably ought to.

This article and embedded link was posted today by John Stark on the Herald's Politics blog.
History, to be above evasion or dispute, must stand on documents, not on opinions. - Lord Acton