Tuesday, October 30, 2012

No Coal: Two-Minute Drill

Coal Carriers vs. Ferries  (RE Sources)
Last Saturday I got to say in two minutes what one of my concerns was about the Gateway Pacific coal export facility proposed in the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve and what I’d like decision-makers to investigate when making a decision on the permit application.

The process itself is what’s called ‘scoping’ for the project’s Environmental Impact Statement, supposedly the basis upon which local, state and federal jurisdictions will make their decisions. You can read all about what ‘scoping’ entails here.

Saturday’s meeting in Bellingham will be followed by public meetings on Nov. 3 in Friday Harbor, Nov. 5 in Mount Vernon, Nov. 13 in Seattle, Nov. 29 in Ferndale, Dec. 4 in Spokane, and Dec. 12 in Vancouver WA. Detailed schedule here.

If you choose to make a verbal comment at one of the public meetings, you have to do it in two minutes or less. It’s a good idea to comment on some aspect of the project that affects you personally and to conclude your comment asking that the environmental impact study address a specific question or an issue the project raises.

Two minutes, as many of us find out, isn’t much time to express your care for the Salish Sea and your concern about its threats. But it can be done and it’s really a fun exercise for the good.

Here’s what I said in two minutes:

“Over the last 25 years, I have worked with others to protect and recover our endangered Southern resident orca whales, the endangered salmon they eat and we eat, and the places the whales and the salmon depend on for their health. 
An oil spill in these waters would devastate the orcas whales and the salmon we are working so hard to restore to health. 
Every year, over ten thousand large vessels enter and exit the Strait of Juan de Fuca to and from the Pacific Ocean. Over the last 25 years, we have advocated for stricter oil spill prevention and for more rapid and effective response to oil spills. 
This proposed coal export facility and a proposed oil export facility in Vancouver BC will add over fifteen hundred large vessel transits to the narrow waterways in Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan counties. 
This EIS should examine:
One, how much will more large vessel traffic increase the risk of an oil spill in these waters,

Two, how adequately can our system of oil spill response and recovery protect our shores and waters when large vessel traffic increases,

Three, how much will more large vessel traffic affect the health of endangered Southern resident orcas —the effects of more underwater noise, more vessel interaction, and prey availability. 
And last, please examine all measures the shipping industry must take to minimize the risk of an oil spill and to maximize timely response and recovery of oil should a spill occur. 
If you cannot ensure the safety of our shorelines, our whales and our salmon, don’t permit this project.”

Now, you try— and let me know how it turns out.

--Mike Sato


  1. Great comment, Mike! If anyone wants to see many more examples of comments that have already been submitted, you can see 2000+ comments on this website: http://www.eisgatewaypacificwa.gov/get-involved/comment/all

    Happy commenting!

  2. Thanks, Lee. And for more, check out Whatcom Watch and its very informative backgrounder on what the coal export facility proposal at Cherry Point entails: http://www.whatcomwatch.org/pdf_content/OurLivingJewelOct2012.pdf

  3. I sent my comments tonight. I plagiarized your comments, added some of my own, asked for a response.


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