Tomorrow night, there is a meeting at City Council Chambers to discuss the interim regulations for fossil fuel expansion at the Port of Tacoma. I may not be able to attend, so I wanted to get some thoughts down for others to consider. I will likely send this, or something like it, in email to our 9-0 council (they all vote together, no dissension, no diversity of thought or action)
Why do we need to stop fossil fuel expansion at the Port?
I recently had the privilege of hearing Maia Bellon, Director of Washington State Department of Ecology speak. I took the day off to attend the Billy Frank Jr. Pacific Salmon Summit. It was an awesome, inspiring day. I’m so grateful to Creator for the opportunity to attend.
Ms. Bellon had some good things to say. One thing that stood out to me was her stating that many times she asks herself “what are we protecting? Are we protecting the status quo?” She mentioned that what Ecology has to deal with is often the remnants of 100 years of damage and degradation. She mentioned that there are 80,000 chemicals in commerce today, but we do not know the names or effects of many of those 80,000 chemicals. We DON’T EVEN KNOW EVERYTHING WE ARE EXPOSED TO by industrial production.
I applaud her introspection. Ecology’s job is not an easy one. The rules under which they work are set by the legislature. The amount of time that industry spends in the halls of the House and Senate is grossly disproportionate to the amount of time that the halls of the House and Senate are graced by the common resident of Washington State. Industry gets the ears of the legislature, and then Ecology has to follow through with enforcement. But at the end of the day, that enforcement has little to no effect. So, local agencies, like the City of Tacoma, have the ability to help Ecology out. You have the distinction of being able to be the last line of defense against commercial and industrial degradation of our precious resource, the Puyallup Estuary at Commencement Bay.
City of Tacoma has a spectacular opportunity to make Ecology’s future job a little easier, to ensure the health and safety of future generations is no longer compromised. Stop the expansion of fossil fuels at the Port of Tacoma. Here are a few reasons why.
Exxon, PG&E….these two prolific industrial names are very good examples of how industry has criminally ignored the health and safety of the communities they do work in, not only for humans, but also for our environments. We are starting to see the evidence that they have absolutely no concern about the overall impacts of their products on human and environmental health.
Par Pacific – Par Pacific is not an embedded member of our community. On their November 27, 2018 Mergers and Acquisitions call, Par Pacific leadership are recorded as practically salivating over the potential profitability of their acquisition, US Oil, especially considering that they won’t have to pay federal taxes. While US Oil has not been a friend to the community at large, they have been friends to “leaders” and “electeds” in this town. That won’t be the case with Par Pacific.
City of Tacoma and Port of Tacoma have to stop protecting the “sounds of commerce” from the voices of the people, those of us who can see and despair of the damaging environmental, economic and health outcomes the community must bear, over and over, and over, again. City of Tacoma and Port of Tacoma must stop facilitating the damage of the status quo, and listen to the experts at Ecology and Fish and Wildlife.
Kelly Susewind, Director of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, spoke at the Salmon Summit about the pressures that salmon are under, and the good work that has been done to restore the Skokomish and Nisqually Estuaries. He said the status quo won’t work. The stress that salmon are under as a result of industrial degradation is killing them faster than they can recover, even with the use of hatchery fish. Chinook salmon numbers this year were 28% lower than what they were when they originally put the Chinook on the endangered list!!! The STATUS QUO WONT WORK. We must stop allowing the damage of chemicals, known and unknown, to our air and water.
Denny Heck talked about how the Puget Sound is America’s Estuary. The largest estuary in the United States. And City of Tacoma, together with the Port of Tacoma, allows industry to treat the Puyallup Estuary at Commencement Bay like a toilet. It has been turned into a sacrifice zone and we must no longer abide this.
Industry is no friend to anyone but Wall Street. They only care about profits and growth. They don’t care about our community or the world in general. The theme of this year’s Salmon Summit was “The Truth Will Lead Us – Doing the Hard Stuff Together”.
It’s time for the City of Tacoma and the Port of Tacoma to do the hard stuff of telling industry that they can no longer destroy an important part of America’s Estuary. Stop fossil fuel expansion and save our Estuary from further damage.