Fossil Fueled Fearmongering

Sandy Robson’s November 2014 article on fearmongering by fossil fuel export developers, i.e. SSA Marine, Peabody Coal and BNSF Railroad, raises a couple questions. One is why no local media is reporting on this, and another is why the Washington Secretary of State hasn’t censured their PACs for distributing misleading communications to influence elections.

Sandy’s January 2014 article at Whatcom Watch shined a light on these PACs and their collaboration with fossil fuel exporters in money-laundering to influence elections. It also illuminated their connection with the Tea Party and KGMI radio, both of which assisted CERA (“the Ku Klux Klan of Indian country”) in promoting inter-racial discord aimed at the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, which opposes fossil fuel export in their traditional territories. As noted at IC Magazine, capitalizing on fear is what the developers do best.

Drumming up resentment against Native Americans and environmentalists is established practice by Wise Use propagandists, and has a particularly violent past in the Greater Seattle area, as reported by Robson in her October 2013 article at Whatcom Watch. As noted in an article at NWCitizen in February 2014, Robson and Whatcom Watch were threatened by coal export consortium PR man Craig Cole. As reported at IC Magazine in February, the politics of land and bigotry has a long history in the Salish Sea region.

Save Birch Bay

This document on GPT is well done. Of note to tourism and fisheries is the fact that wind-blown coal dust from the uncovered coal stockyard (five half-mile long, six-story high piles) would coat all Birch Bay in corrosive coal dust. The stormwater runoff from these piles would generate millions of gallons of toxic waste water (containing mercury, arsenic and uranium) into the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve, all of which — due to tidal currents — would end up in Birch Bay.

Black beaches, toxic clams and crabs, will be the normal operating consequences of GPT–without a shipping accident.

The Big Battle: Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point

Lummi Nation of Northwest Washington state is leading the fight by Coast Salish First Nations in Washington and British Columbia against the fossil fuel industry’s plan to turn their waters into a fossil fuel gateway. In Treaty Rights and Totem Poles, Amber Cortes reports on the unified front of tribes and allies against Big Coal and Big Oil that Lummi schelangen (way of life) represents.

Sacred Talk

On June 16 at Wexliem House, the Lummi Nation community welcomes an evening with Winona LaDuke in a Sacred Talk, sharing experiences of North American communities impacted by energy development. As part of the Stommish Sacred Summit, an evening with the foremost inspirational speaker from Native America is the chance of a lifetime opportunity for young and old. Advance registration requested.

Protocol of Atonement

Paraphrasing the Skagit elder Taqseblu, “Everyone has been given a gift by Creator to hold on behalf of all humanity. You are not the owner of that gift, but rather the designated guardian. As caretaker, you respect your gifts and wisely apportion them ethically for the betterment of community.”

Respecting ones gifts requires recognition of the responsibility to use ones intelligence with compassion and generosity. One cannot be disrespectful of the intelligence of others, or of the gifts of Creator without suffering shame. When one takes that which belongs to others — be it the graves of ancestors, properties or relations that sustain their cultures — restitution must precede redemption. Restoration, therefore, is a preliminary protocol of atonement.


The coal export consortium comprising the Gateway Pacific Terminal project does not understand these laws of the Salish Sea indigenous nations. The consortium has treated the Coast Salish people with disrespect. It has not taken responsibility for its misconduct. Indeed, its spokespersons have been untruthful, pretending their misconduct was unintentional. This is disrespectful of our intelligence.

When their disrespect was exposed, the consortium spokesperson lashed out at those of us who revealed their misconduct, threatening us, as though we could be intimidated into not using our gifts for the betterment of community. He is mistaken; we respect and honor our gifts by offering them freely.

In the pollution-based economy, turbo-charged by the petrochemical revolution of the twentieth century, respect for Creator’s gifts was displaced by the rationalization of theft. That rationalization, like the rationalization of power and the rationalization of acquisition, is irrational.

In fact, it is not intelligent; it is sociopathic.

As we apply informational public health as a remedy to these threats to community, those who refuse to take responsibility for their misconduct will suffer. There is no way to circumvent or avoid the laws of generosity and compassion without harming themselves. If they do not listen to the voice within, their souls will remain corrupted.

The Voice Within

As Swinomish Tribal Chairman and President of the National Congress of American Indians Brian Cladoosby remarked recently, “Over the last 100 years, our most sacred site, the Salish Sea, has been deeply impacted by our pollution-based economy. We have decided no more and we are stepping forward.”

The pollution-based economy Cladoosby refers to includes environmentally devastating oil and coal mega-projects in Canada and the United States. As Wall Street seeks to cash in on fossil fuel export, the Tar Sands, the Powder River Basin coal mines and the Bakken Shale oil fields are a notorious part of that pollution-based economy threatening the Salish Sea.

As Dine scholar Larry Emerson noted, “our relationship to seventh generation principles of sustainability has been disrupted.” Contending with a legacy of corruption, plundered land, water and air, Dine (Navajo) youth — who’ve been culturally and ecologically devastated by the intergenerational traumas from uranium and coal mining — are demanding “the right to healthy Dine identities and ethical, sacred ecological lifestyles.”

Fear and greed are tools companies like Peabody Coal, Pacific International Terminals and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad use to divide and conquer indigenous peoples and American communities from the mountains of Appalachia to the mesas of Arizona and the shores of the Salish Sea. Stepping forward together as peoples of conscience means enlisting our humanity in combination with others.

As the renowned human rights organizer Bill Wassmuth observed, “To enhance and ensure our survival, it is not only noble, but necessary, to act upon the voice within.”