Dictionary dot com provides the following as definitions for the word betray
- To deliver or expose to an enemy by treachery or disloyalty
- to be unfaithful in guarding, maintaining or fulfilling
- to disappoint the hopes or expectations of, be disloyal to
- to reveal or disclose in violation of confidence
- to reveal unconsciously (something one would preferably conceal)
- to show or exhibit; reveal; disclose
- to deceive, misguide or corrupt
In my estimation, meeting three of the seven definitions above, the City of Tacoma has betrayed it’s citizens, both future and present. The city purports to be committed to environmental principles of preservation, conservation and remediation. The Environmental Action Plan was enacted by resolution 39427 in April 2016. More than two years after City Leaders began conversations with fossil fuel developers and signing the city up to two projects which will have massive negative environmental impact.
The decision makers are not stupid nor ignorant. They are well-educated people of the world. Save for a few, I don’t believe they blindly accepted the information put before them by industry. Industry sought to secure a smooth path forward in the development of these projects, and were very clever and strategic in what they put forward. I am convinced that City leaders reviewed the material put in front of them, fully aware the controversy surrounding fossil fuel extraction, processing and delivery.
I believe, instead, they gauged the materials and plans presented by industry on the merits of their ‘believability’ when the controversy would explode. They gauged the materials and plans based on whether or not their arguments were sturdy enough that decision makers could plausibly be shielded from public rancor.
In this, the citizens of Tacoma have been betrayed by those who promise to be environmentally responsible and do exactly the opposite thing.
City leadership has committed, no shackled, this city to another dark era of environmental disaster. All the efforts undertaken to live up to their environmental plan in corners of the city are surely going to be negated the first time a tanker carrying fracked oil spills on the Salish Sea; the first time a trucking incident spills toxic materials into the watershed; the first time an oil train derails and spills into our precious estuary; and consistently, every day where industry is allowed to emit toxins into the air without any meaningful measurement.
They would have us believe that there is nothing more to be done to reverse the course. I whole-heartedly disagree. Industry has been allowed to manipulate loopholes in ordinances and codes. City leaders know how to reverse what has been done, if only they had the will and character that would allow them to change the course.
It saddens me when I think of all the money spent on consultants to answer questions posed by the public. That money, coupled with a keen and careful maneuvering of codes and ordinances could have been very productive in the purchasing of air monitoring equipment for the port and created a truly robust program of environmental stewardship IN REAL TIME.
Notice that no one has been called out by name. Having lived on this planet for some time now and having the wisdom that comes from time, the knowledge of history and the compassion of a matriarch, I choose a different path.
History is rife with stories of man’s greed and avarice, unchecked, decimating and destroying the paradise and abundance of gifts our Mother has provided for us. This is not a new story for us. The machinations of avarice have long been here with us, and are easily succumbed to. The tactic of attacking people only leads to more strife and ultimately nothing gets resolved. If we, instead, choose to address the issues underlying the actions that others take to decimate our planet, perhaps we might stop repeating the mistakes of our ancestors.
The Earth, as our mother, is forgiving and capable of healing, when we decide to stop digging in, shitting on and despoiling her at every opportunity.
I encourage these leaders to take the path that leads to a change of minds and hearts. To turn away from their obsession and servitude to greed. Even if they do not do this publicly, the simple act of changing their mind can have a profound effect and can cascade throughout their circles, radiating out into the community.
In the meantime, we have an election approaching. I’m not one to tell people how to vote and I don’t publicly discuss how my vote is cast. To this day, I hold the right to vote as sacred and along with it, the right to hold tight to one’s decision making process. However, I will encourage you to this. Learn all that you can about the person who wins your vote. Are they part of the traditional Tacoma political regime? Where do they stand when it comes to the development of the Port? Are they signing up to the same old economic activities of environmental degradation that Tacoma still suffers under? Are they a politician, chasing money and donors? Or are they a public servant, running a campaign? Have they stood with the people when they cried out to be heard? Or have they participated in the charade of pretending to listen and never doing anything meaningful?
Tacoma cannot endure another regime of city leaders who are easily led into the betrayal of their citizens, both present and future. No matter who wins in the election, we still have a lot of work ahead of us. We will be responsible to hold all our leaders accountable and to ensure that they do not get sidetracked or consumed by the powers of avarice.