Dire Warnings

Unlike the communities of Prince William Sound or the Gulf Coast, communities on the shores of the Salish Sea and in the San Juan Islands haven’t yet experienced beaches and boats covered in crude oil, with carcinogenic toxic fumes causing them to evacuate seaside resorts, homes and businesses. And unlike Lac Megantic, Quebec, communities on the I-5 corridor between Portland, Oregon and Blaine, Washington haven’t yet experienced the devastation of a ‘bomb train’ in their towns. But with the lifting of the U.S. crude oil export ban in December 2015, unless communities get organized now, that day will come.

If communities on the Columbia River and Puget Sound want to avoid disastrous oil spills like those that wiped out fish and wildlife in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, the Bakken Shale crude spills resulting from the 2014 bomb train explosions in Alabama, Alberta, New Brunswick, North Dakota and Virginia serve as dire warnings of what can happen with a Salish Sea shipping disaster–on land or sea. While shipping Tar Sands bitumen and Bakken Shale crude by rail has made Warren Buffett (Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad) and Bill Gates (Canadian National Railway) a bundle, the tourism, fishing and real estate industries of the Salish Sea stand to suffer from fossil fuel export.

Hoping to cash in on creating crude zones on the Salish Sea and Washington coast, oil and coal exporters in 2014 began laundering money through the Washington Republican Party to elect pro-carbon candidates to the Washington State Legislature. When the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians took a position against fossil fuel export in 2013, Buffet began pouring money into Tea Party-led PACs that distinguished themselves by promoting anti-Indian racism on the radio and in newspapers near the Cherry Point oil refineries, that, in 2016, are preparing to capitalize on the lifted oil export ban.

Like the proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point, exporting crude oil and petrochemicals from the four refineries on the Salish Sea is a disaster waiting to happen. The devastation of a superspill — due to the looming dramatic increase in the volume of oil tanker traffic from Port Metro Vancouver, Cherry Point and Anacortes — would be beyond most people’s imagination.

While residents of the San Juan Islands and surrounding area remain relatively complacent about this ominous threat, residents of neighboring Gabriola Island, in August 2015, rallied against a proposal  from the Pacific Pilotage Authority of Canada to moor cape-size oil tankers in the Gulf Islands. Something to think about.

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Straight Talk Hate Talk

When it comes to professional conduct, attorneys, physicians and elected officials are subject to review by their peers through private associations and public commissions. They can face disbarment, censure, loss of licenses to practice, as well as removal from office through recall and impeachment.

For the public relations industry, however, no such oversight exists. While lying for a living has been normalized in American society, promoting racism still has to face the court of public opinion. Admittedly, this is a challenging task in light of the consolidation of private equity media ownership, but unethical conduct can still be exposed on the Internet.

A case in point is straight talk hate talk. Straight Talk Consulting’s Craig Cole, spokesman for Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) and Director of Northwest Jobs Alliance — a front group for GPT — has spent the last four years drumming up resentment against Lummi Nation, a member of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI), in order to overcome its opposition to fossil fuel export in its traditional territory–especially in five ATNI member tribes’ Usual and Accustomed treaty fishing areas.

Cole’s misconduct has been extensively documented in online publications, including a September 2015 expose at IC Magazine, a publication of the Center for World Indigenous Studies–a think tank established in 1979 by leaders from the National Congress of American Indians and the Assembly of First Nations in Canada. In March 2014, award-winning Native American journalist Terri Hansen exposed the GPT-funded, Tea Party-led PACs and their ally Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA) — the “Ku Klux Klan of Indian country” — in a feature story at Indian Country Today.

Exposure of Cole’s direct involvement in facilitating financial and organizational connections between promoters of anti-Indian racism and fossil fuel industrial developers in the Pacific Northwest recently garnered investigative journalist Sandra Robson the prestigious Paul deArmond Citizen Journalism award. Robson’s groundbreaking feature stories on GPT and Cole won her Public Good Correspondent awards in both 2014 and 2015.

While Cole’s threatened libel suit against Robson never materialized, as Northwest Citizen reported in February 2014, this was a classic corporate effort to silence journalists. In a follow-up article, the editor observed that mainstream media in the greater Seattle region declined to mention this very important news.

Named a Fellow by the National Association of Corporate Directors, “the highest level of corporate credentialing for corporate directors and corporate governance professionals” in February 2014, Cole, who was simultaneously threatening journalists, exhibited an astonishing level of hubris for a promoter of racism. As a former liberal, now Tea Party hero, Cole must find it difficult to rationalize his misconduct since selling his soul to Wall Street. Meanwhile, the National Association of Corporate Directors might want to reconsider Cole’s fellowship.

Beaufort Scale

Wind force is classified (Beaufort scale) by sustained wind, not gusts. Gusts, however, can exhibit symptoms of higher scale sustained wind.
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Last weekend, the Salish Sea region experienced a Strong breeze (25-31 mph)–blowing debris, and High wind (32-38 mph)–hard to walk.
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The Washington coast had Gale force wind (39-46 mph)–cars veer on road, and some areas of Strong wind (47-54 mph)–small trees blown over.
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Storm wind (55-63 mph)–trees uprooted, and Violent storm (64-72 mph)–structural damage, would have wrecked houses.
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Hurricane force wind (over 73 mph) would devastate everything.

Outdated and Unconscionable

The January 26, 2016 letter from the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Chairman and National Congress of American Indians President, Brian Cladoosby, summarizes for the Whatcom County Council the treaty rights of four Northwest Indian tribes at their Usual and Accustomed Areas — reserved under the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliot — as well as cites the relevance of both the U.S. Constitution and new science that argue for an end to industrial development at Cherry Point.

The combined threats to Lummi Nation’s cultural heritage, as well as to endangered species like Orca whale and Chinook salmon, says Cladoosby, are exacerbated by recent plans to export fossil fuels like coal and oil from Cherry Point, adding that the thirty-year-old industrial vision is both outdated and unconscionable.