Bellow Travelers

British Petroleum Cherry Point refinery and friends are presently promoting a “preserve cherry point jobs” campaign to mislead Whatcom county voters into thinking that stopping fossil fuel export will harm local jobs and taxes that support schools. The truth is that the property taxes paid by BP and Phillips 66 remain the same with or without export, as do the refining jobs to meet domestic demand for gasoline and aviation fuel.

The tourism industry of the San Juan Islands is huge, but we mustn’t forget the Dungeness crab commercial fishery at Cherry Point and Georgia Strait that supports families in Anacortes, Blaine, and on the Lummi Indian Reservation. The seafood processors in Blaine are some of the last jobs available in a community that once canned more salmon than anywhere else in the region.

Here’s a child-friendly slide show about how to preserve jobs without “more toxic fuels” polluting the “sacred waters of the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve.”

Recidivist Offender

One thing we learned watching the movie Deepwater Horizon is that British Petroleum puts greed ahead of concerns for human life and the environment. That greed led to BP paying $4.5 billion in fines and penalties in the largest criminal resolution in US history.

In mid-February, National Audubon Society’s director of bird conservation for the Gulf Coast spoke at the Whatcom Museum about the risks facing vulnerable communities of the Salish Sea. Those vulnerable communities include Coast Salish Nation, the San Juan Islands, and endangered species such as Chinook salmon and Orca whales.

In 2012, BP Cherry Point was fined $81,500 by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries for willfully violating workplace safety and health rules. As Fred Felleman reported, “the Gulf gusher was not an isolated event in BP’s accident-riddled record.”

Felleman also reports that BP led the effort to lift the crude oil export ban, and “is investing in the highly polluting Alberta tar sands that are connected by pipeline to its Cherry Point refinery and marine terminal.” The terminal, says Felleman, “is surrounded by the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve that was created in 1999 to recover the state’s once-largest herring spawning stock.”

The Chinook eat herring, and the Orca eat Chinook. No herring, no Orca.

As Felleman notes, “In 2000 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permitted BP to build a new tanker dock at Cherry Point without conducting an environmental impact statement.” In 2005, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals mandated that the Corps prepare a full EIS and re-evaluate whether the permit is in compliance with federal law–the Magnuson Amendment–“to reduce the risk of an oil spill caused by increasing the number of tankers transiting the narrow waterways through the San Juan Islands.”

Between June 2007 and February 2010, BP had 829 refinery violations  as compared with 33 for the rest of the industry. In 2011, federal prosecutors sought to revoke BP’s criminal probation that had been on and off since 2001, stating BP is a “recidivist offender and repeated violator of environmental laws and regulations.” In 2016, BP settled out of court with Whatcom County, agreeing to pay property taxes it tried to get out of through sleight-of-hand.

Lummi Nation Wins Opening Battle

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.]

Bomb Trains

With the lifting of the U.S. crude oil export ban in December 2015, the fracked oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota is looking for new export terminals that can handle the skyrocketing increase in oil trains carrying this volatile crude. With the growing movement to stop new oil pipelines — which are much safer for transporting oil than trains — communities that are geographically exposed to the danger of derailing and exploding ‘bomb trains’ are now preparing emergency plans for the half-mile evacuation zone established by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Omitted from the propaganda emanating from environmental organizations advocating against new pipelines, however, is any mention of how to stop the explosive growth in ‘bomb train’ traffic without them. Apparently, they don’t want either, but that would require reestablishing the export ban Congress just lifted, which is an unlikely scenario. The other thing “no pipelines” advocates, i.e. 350 — which is ironically funded by ‘bomb train’ magnate Warren Buffett (owner of BNSF Railway) via TIDES — fail to address, is consumer demand for petroleum products, i.e. gasoline, aviation fuel, and plastic.

As noted in the April 25 issue of Chicago Magazine, Bomb Trains are rolling through densely-populated areas–near homes, schools and hospitals. As noted in the Wall Street Journal, a single tank car of Bakken crude carries the energy equivalent of two million sticks of dynamite. This fact alone has emergency preparedness authorities and firefighters across the country horrified. Even if American citizens are successful in pressuring Congress to reestablish the crude oil export ban, they will still need to address the transport method of oil domestically–the oil that they themselves consume.

Ecology Rebuked by Court of Appeals

Washington State Department of Ecology and the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board were rebuked by the Washington State Court of Appeals for permitting the Cherry Point oil refineries and aluminum smelter to discharge toxic pollutants into the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve, in direct violation of the federal Clean Water Act.