Points of Interest

Trans Mountain targets Anacortes and Cherry Point for Tar Sands export terminals.

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Round Three

As I characterized the Cherry Point coal fracas, that was round one–a preliminary event prior to the main bout. Round two is the update and revision of land use policies at Cherry Point, consistent with the State of Washington Growth Management Act. As reported at RESources, round three includes many battles in the fossil fuel export war at Cherry Point, that pits Coast Salish tribes against Wall Street.

Conflagration

Cherry Point fossil fuel export developers now include the Petrogas propane facility at the former ALCOA plant. The propane trains from Canada and bomb trains from North Dakota–that share the rails into the Cherry Point oil refineries adjacent to the Petrogas shipping terminal–create what Sightline reports as a serious risk of conflagration.

For residents of cities like Blaine and Ferndale–as well as Cherry Point workers at BP, Petrogas and Phillips 66–explosions of this magnitude are likely to kill hundreds of people, while injuring thousands.

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.

Documenting the Dark Side

As noted in Communications in Conflict, research–where social milieus investigate threats by obtaining primary documents that reveal the financial and organizational ties of their enemies–is the foundation of effective education, organizing and community action. As illustrated in the special report Netwar at Cherry Point, primary documents in the fossil fuel export war between Wall Street and Coast Salish Nation include audio and video tapes, political action committee and non-profit incorporation records, and political campaign contributions. The close working relationship between fossil fuel exporters, the Tea Party, the Republican Party, and violent white supremacist organizations—documented by independent, volunteer, citizen journalists—is a phenomenon that should seriously concern tribal leaders and moral authorities.

 

Monitoring the activities of corporations, organizations, and media mobilizing resentment against tribal sovereignty is essential in protecting the protectors, who would otherwise be vulnerable to these threats from the anti-Indian movement. Collating reports from investigative research networks—which can include college students under supervision of mentors—allows organizations like the Center for World Indigenous Studies (CWIS) to keep leaders of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians informed with timely and accurate updates on developments that impact their ability to defend tribal sovereignty and the exercise of tribal jurisdiction under federal and international law. These periodic reports, in turn, allow tribal leaders to take proactive measures to protect their members, as well as communicate more effectively.

 

In developing an estimate of the situation facing Coast Salish Nation, the proposed 2017 opposition research conference is in keeping with the goals set forth by CWIS at the 1996 Politics of Land & Bigotry conference. With the impending escalation of the carbon corridor conflict on the shores of the Salish Sea over exporting Tar Sands bitumen and Bakken Shale crude from Port Metro Vancouver in British Columbia and Cherry Point in Washington State, it behooves indigenous leaders to implement monitoring and exposure of organized anti-Indian activities that mainstream media completely ignores or intentionally covers up. As stated in the 1996 call to conference, “The portentous movements in America intent on promoting interracial discord, extremist claims on lands and natural resources, and a growing politics of fear” require “forging a coalition actively committed to achieving a new public consensus.”