Lummi Nation Wins Opening Battle of Fossil Fuel Export War
By Jay Taber
The headline news story this week (pg. A-1 at the Seattle Times) was the ‘historic victory’ for the treaty rights of Lummi Nation over SSA Marine and Pacific International Terminals. SSAs proposed Gateway Pacific Cherry Point coal terminal, in which BNSF (Warren Buffett) is a partner, was rejected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Seattle Times article has a map inset that locates Cherry Point just south of Birch Bay, where Public Good Project correspondent and Paul de Armond Citizen Journalism award-winner Sandra Robson lives. Sandy’s cover story at Whatcom Watch in January 2014 blew the lid off the mainstream media cover-up of Gateway Pacific Terminal racism.
A March 2014 report at Indian Country Today by Native American Journalist Association standout Terri Hansen–about the anti-Indian PACs funded by SSA and BNSF–quotes me and my colleague Charles Tanner Jr. The Wrong Kind of Green feature I wrote in April 2016 provides a three-year accounting of Wise Use anti-Indian movement developments in the region.
For those who would like to hear the perspective of Lummi tribal leaders, the Sightline Institute article includes two short video interviews from Lummi Nation. For those interested in profiles of the promoters of racism and the timeline of the conflict, Public Good Project art and media consultant Mark Gould created two posters: White Power on the Salish Sea, and Hall of Shame.
Up next is the battle to stop Warren Buffett’s ‘bomb trains’ that became an issue one year ago. Buffett’s bomb trains–already unloading at the BP and Phillips 66 Cherry Point refineries–are expected to dramatically increase in the Pacific Northwest as a result of the lifting of the U.S. crude oil export ban by Congress in December 2015.
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 KGMI radio and in newspapers near the Cherry Point oil refineries.
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.
[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted Indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]