Oil train derailed yesterday in Seattle

Multiple news accounts reported that a loaded oil train derailed yesterday under the Magnolia Bridge, about a mile north of downtown Seattle.

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Events to recognize 25th anniversary of Exxon Valdez oil spill

Exxon Valdez events Poster 3.14

Remember the Exxon Valdez – lest it be repeated here

25 years ago, the Exxon Valdez hit a reef and leaked oil that covered an area 25 times the size of San Juan County waters, devastating the Alaskan ecology and economy. To this day, the spilled oil still remains in Alaskan soil. Many species and commercial fishing in Prince William Sound have yet to recover fully.

Can such a nightmare happen to us here in the Salish Sea?

Potentially, and the risk is increasing.

Each year 10,000 large ships and tankers traverse the tricky waters surrounding the San Juan islands. As the dirty energy industry races to push our climate to the brink and extract coal out of Montana and Wyoming, Bakken shale oil out of North Dakota and tar sands oil out of Alberta, these fossil fuels destined for export to Asia are unfortunately converging around the Salish Sea. The proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point is just one example; there are many more. The expansion of Trans Mountain pipelines in B.C. alone will add 400 tankers per year.

Whether one believes in statistics or luck, when many massive ships loaded with dangerous fossil fuel cargo try to criss-cross around each other and the 450 islands and rocks that are the San Juan Island archipelago, the situation is like a potential ticking time bomb of Exxon Valdez proportion or possibly worse.

So how prepared are we to handle a major oil spill? Can heavy tar sands oil be contained if it sinks? Who would we call to seek help if spilled oil reaches our favorite beaches or property? Who pays for resulting damages and economic losses?

To help answer these questions, I encourage all to attend a lecture by leading experts on Friday March 14, 7pm at the Lopez Center, and watch the award-winning film “Black Wave: the legacy of the Exxon Valdez” at the Lopez Library on Monday March 24, 7pm. Also watch for drift cards simulating oil spills that may drift to you after March 24.

Remember the Exxon Valdez; lest it be repeated.

 

ACTION ALERT: Coal Terminal Public Comment Period Now Open for Longview!

Our Island Voices Are Needed Again!

Our island voices were of the hundreds of thousands who submitted scoping comments for the proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point. And guess what — they heard us!
 
Now it’s our turn to help our neighbors to the south. Those fighting the export of coal from the proposed terminal in Longview need voices from far and wide. Since Longview and the islands share the backyard of the State of Washington and Planet Earth, let’s ask the regulatory agencies to address the risks to our state waters and beyond from the shipment of coal as well as the greenhouse gas emissions and ocean acidification from the end-use of coal. The State Department of Ecology has agreed to study these risks in the Cherry Point Environmental Impact Statement, so let’s ask them to do the same for Longview. Make them hear us again!
 
On how to submit your comments, please see the Action Alert from Power Past Coal. And learn more from Columbia Riverkeeper: http://columbiariverkeeper.org/featured/millenniums-coal-export-proposal-in-longview-enters-public-comment-period/
Thank you!
The above text is from Shawn Hubbard of San Juan Islanders for Safe Shipping. Thanks Shawn!

 

Bursting Coal Bubble Will Spell Doom to the Coal Ports?

While it may be too soon to conclude, the article, excerpted below, by Michael Riordan in Crosscut.com contains insightful research and analysis. It’s wise to stay vigilant, however, because even if coal were no longer part of the export plans at Cherry Point, the Gateway Pacific Terminal could still ship out petroleum coke, a by-product of tar sands oil refinery with similar property to coal but dirtier. There are also plans and already existing traffic to ship diluted bitumen (from tar sands) and Bakken shale oil in the Salish Sea… 

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Why the market will be the death of coal ports
If you listen carefully, you might hear the sound of the “coal export bubble” popping. Coal prices are plummeting globally, and the bottom seems nowhere in sight. Early this month the price of benchmark Australian thermal coal fell below $77 per metric ton, down 46 percent from its 2011 peak.

In the heady days of two or three years ago, this benchmark price soared to nearly $142. U.S. companies trotted out ambitious proposals for six Northwest export terminals to ship Powder River Basin coal from Montana and Wyoming to Asia, where it could fetch these bloated prices. But as prices fell back to more realistic levels this past year, three of the projects were abandoned.

Similar coal mining and terminal plans are being shelved in Australia, where companies are slashing output and jobs. Ditto for Indonesia, which also depends on the Asian market for its coal exports.

…the Goldman report states that coal-mining and transport projects that come on line more than five years from now are unlikely to earn back their capital investments. Given the staunch environmental opposition to the Cherry Point project, it will take at least that long, if ever, before it begins operation. And as Goldman Sachs owns 51 percent of SSA Marine, it makes me wonder whether company executives are reading their own investment reports…

So here’s a prediction: Watch for one of the remaining Northwest coal terminal projects — if not all three — to be cancelled by year’s end. 

(To read the full article, go to crosscut.com/2013/08/26/michael-riordan-coal-bubble-bursting)

Lummi leaders to visit Eastsound, Orcas to discuss coal opposition

Saturday, August 31, at 5 p.m. in the Episcopal Parish Hall on Main Street in Eastsound

By Michael Riordan and Kurt Russo, via Orcas Issues

In late July the Lummi Nation governing Council declared its “unconditional and unequivocal opposition to the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal” now being planned for Cherry Point on the Whatcom County shoreline facing Orcas Island.

Jewell James, Director of the Lummi Nation’s Sovereignty and Treaty Protection Office and totem pole carver, will visit Eastsound with Jeremiah Julius, Secretary of the Lummi Nation Governing Council, on Saturday, Aug. 31. Paul Anderson photo (via Orcas Issues)

On August 31 two nationally prominent Lummi leaders, Jeremiah Julius and Jewell James, will visit Eastsound to discuss this decision and plans for a totem pole journey aimed at unifying Native American tribes in opposition to the planned coal terminals.

The proposed terminal would be located just a few miles northwest of Lummi Nation lands and directly amidst the site of the ancient village and burial grounds they call Xwe’chi’eXen, which is listed in the Washington state register of historic places. Preparations for the terminal have already disturbed this site.

Fugitive coal dust from storage piles and ship loading would pollute the waters around Cherry Point, an important herring spawning grounds and rich crab fishery. High winds could also carry this dust downwind to the Lummi lands.

The Lummi and affiliated tribes originally fished throughout the San Juan Islands and surrounding Salish Sea. In fact, they had fishing villages on Madrona Point, which was returned to Lummi ownership in 1990. They are our neighbors.

After thoroughly studying the terminal proposal, Lummi leaders concluded that they could not countenance the major adverse impacts it would inflict upon their Schelangen, or “way of life,” which stresses the connectedness of all things and planning for the future of the next seven generations.

Julius and James will explain the cultural, historical and philosophical bases for the Lummi opposition, grounded in the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott, which gave Puget Sound tribes clear rights to continue fishing in their “usual and accustomed grounds and stations.” These rights were upheld by the US Supreme Court in 1979.

James will also discuss the Kwel hoy’ (“We draw the line”) totem pole he is now carving in preparation for a 1500-mile journey through tribes, towns and cities along rail lines from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin to Xwe’chi’eXen.

The talks will begin at 5 pm on Saturday, August 31, in the Episcopal Parish Hall on Main Street in Eastsound, cosponsored by Friends of the San Juans and the Orcas NO COALition. Admission is free but donations to the Kwel hoy’ totem pole journey will be gratefully appreciated.

To read the full article, please go to Orcas Issues.

Letter to Senator Maria Cantwell

The Lummi Nation has shown leadership in opposing the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT). It is important to also call upon Senator Maria Cantwell, as chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, to lend the Lummi Nation support on their stance. The SJ Alliance (comprising Friends of the San Juans,  Lopez NO COALition, Orcas NO COALition, and San Juan Islanders for Safe Shipping) has sent her a letter. We also urge each and every one of us to send her individual letters as well (the letter we sent could be used as a template but can be modified as you see fit). The letter can be sent to the following local staffers who will forward to the Senator:

Sally Hintz (Sally_Hintz@cantwell.senate.gov)

SaraCrumb (Sara_Crumb@cantwell.senate.gov)

Below is the text from the letter for your use/adaptation:

“We applaud and endorse the recent decision of the Lummi Nation’s leadership to oppose the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal unconditionally and unequivocally, as expressed in a July 30 letter to the US Army Corp of Engineers. This ill-considered project to export more than 50 million tons of coal annually will have the greatest and most direct impact upon the Lummi people, whose cultural heritage and economic livelihood based upon the sustainable harvest of Salish Sea fisheries would be imperiled by it. As organizations and individuals devoted to such stewardship, we call upon our national and state legislators and other policymakers to hear and heed the Lummi message.

In particular, we think that terminal advocates are making specious claims that they can eliminate or mitigate its impacts. The adverse impacts on the public health of Washington citizens and our environment will likely far outweigh any possible economic benefits to the state’s workers and governments. A critical, thorough examination of terminal proponents’ claims, now beginning with the formulation of an environmental impact statement, will establish the truth.

Therefore we call upon you as our Senator and the Chair of the Indian Affairs Committee to support the Lummi Nation in its determined efforts to “preserve,
promote and protect our Schelangen,” their way of life. According to the 1855 Point Elliott Treaty and its interpretation by the United States Supreme Court in upholding the 1974 Boldt Decision, the proposed project coal terminal must not impair Lummi fishing rights in any manner. If the project’s adverse impacts cannot be convincingly avoided, it must be abandoned.”