Journey of Lawlessness

In his editorial Twice Zero, the editor of Cascadia Weekly notes the recent Washington Supreme Court ruling against Whatcom County for not protecting public water, as required under Washington law. Additionally, he criticizes Whatcom County government for hiding behind a volunteer advisory Water Resource planning group as a substitute for executive action consistent with the law.

As the original Water Resources delegate for the environmental caucus, representing organizations that included North Cascades Audubon Society and the Whatcom County Land Trust, I couldn’t agree more. We were merely an advisory body from the outset.

When the Building Industry Association sabotaged Washington’s Growth Management law–by hiring agents to recruit vigilantes to threaten our constituency and the tribes–Whatcom County government embarked on a twenty-year journey of lawlessness. This outlaw behavior, which Whatcom Environmental Council opposed in numerous legal battles 1994-1996, was exacerbated by the lack of enforcement by the office of the Governor, who has the sole authority to withhold state funding until the county comes into compliance with the law.

Perhaps of interest to readers, the first Washington Supreme Court ruling against Whatcom County for failing to protect public water resources was in June 1994.

Alliance vs Tar Sands

The First Nations Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion–signed by 50 Indigenous nations in Vancouver and Quebec on September 22–opposes TransCanada, Kinder Morgan, and Enbridge pipeline projects in their traditional territories. As reported in the National Observer, the treaty builds on “major First Nations victories” against the Northern Gateway project and Keystone XL pipeline.

Omitted in the article, however, is any mention of the fact that the deciding factor of Obama’s rejection of Keystone XL is that it pitted Canadian Alberta Tar Sands oil against US-produced Bakken crude, made possible by his approval of fracking on millions of acres in North Dakota. The resulting glut of oil, which overwhelmed Gulf Coast storage capacity, made it possible for Obama’s advisor Warren Buffett to corner the oil-by-rail market now threatening the Pacific Coast of Northwest Washington and Southwest British Columbia.

Challenging Racism

Lummi Nation planning commissioner Sharlaine LaClair, Democrat, will take on incumbent Luanne Van Werven in the general election for the 42nd district house of representatives in the Washington State legislature. In 2013, in her role as vice-chair of the Washington Republican Party, Van Werven facilitated money-laundering from the Cherry Point coal export consortium to the Tea Party-led PACs established by KGMI radio host Kris Halterman, who in 2012 and 2013 hosted Elaine Willman from CERA–the “Ku Klux Klan of Indian Country”–on her program Saturday Morning Live three times. Willman was part of the headline at the anti-Indian conference held in Bellingham WA on April 6, 2013, and stated “Tribalism is socialism, and has no place in our country!”

Note: For more on organized racism in Whatcom County, see Netwar at Cherry Point: White Power on the Salish Sea.

A Cultural Resurgence

Nisqually Canoe Journey, held near Olympia last week, represented 27 years of the revitalized Coast Salish practice of traveling the “saltwater highway” to sing, dance, feast and renew friendships between tribes in Washington and British Columbia. As Nisqually elder Cleo Frank remarked, “We have a whole generation now that were born into it and will never know a time when the canoe journey hasn’t been here.”