3 hrs June 24, 2015 Sj Robson
**Connecting some dots between advocacy groups, individuals, and coal interests relating to the June 22 pro-GPT panel forum hosted by Whatcom Business Alliance, and sponsored by Northwest Jobs Alliance and Keep Washington Competitive**
This post was first intended to be in response to a comment made by Wendy Harris [on Whatcom Hawk Facebook] about Washington Farm Bureau President John Stuhlmiller who was one of the panelists at the June 22 pro-GPT panel forum. Then as I started writing, it took on a life of itself that was far too lengthy for a comment on a post. Might be too lengthy for a post too, but I think the information is important.
Here it goes. . .
The Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA) was founded and formed by former Whatcom County Council member Tony Larson in April 2012, right after SSA Marine/Pacific International Terminals (PIT) had submitted its permit application to Whatcom County on March 19, 2012. Tony Larson and his WBA group strongly advocate for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT).
The Washington State Farm Bureau has been advocating for GPT for years and John Stuhlmiller is usually doing the advocating for GPT on behalf of the WA Farm Bureau. The Farm Bureau tries to appear grass-roots and touts itself as the “voice of the farmer” but what most small family farmers know and say is that the Farm Bureau really advocates for industrial scale agribusiness, pitted against the small family farmers, organic, local food advocates, and environmentalists.
Stuhlmiller criticized the DOE’s decision on requiring a broad environmental review for both the GPT and Longview coal terminal in this July 2013 media statement attributed to him:
Statement from the Washington Farm Bureau
“What’s being requested by the Department of Ecology moves us into uncharted territory – reviews like this associated with port terminal developments have never been proposed anywhere in the country. It could have a chilling effect on Eastern Washington and agriculture communities that use our state’s rail system and port facilities to move our products to market.”
Professor of International Business at WWU Steven Globerman, was commissioned by the WA State Farm Bureau to produce a report on the economic implications of the Gateway Pacific and the MBTL (Longview WA) coal export terminals to other industries. That report advocated the supposed importance of both proposed coal export terminals.
In his report, Globerman said WA state can take advantage of unfolding economic opportunities such as increased tax revenues. However, he failed to include in that scenario the fact that BNSF will only be paying for 5% of the rail infrastructure and upgrades needed such as overpasses, etc. The rest, 95%, will be borne by taxpayers. So, the tax revenues that Globerman considers an opportunity will not even offset the huge costs of these needed rail overpasses and crossings. An overpass can cost from $20 million to $75 million.
WA State Farm Bureau President Stuhlmiller also submitted an EIS scoping comment, on behalf of the WA State Farm Bureau, advocating for the Millennium Bulk Terminal Longview on Nov. 15, 2013. In his EIS comment, Stuhmiller referenced Steven Globerman’s report.
Globerman’s report has been used in numerous advertising pieces regarding the GPT project. He is one of several WWU professors and staff who have let themselves be used in advocacy for GPT.
Steven Globerman was selected as the Kaiser Professor of International Business at WWU, and he is the Director of the Center for International Business at WWU.
Nick Kaiser, Co-Founder and Chairman of Saturna Capital (Bellingham), established an endowment creating the Kaiser Professorship in International Business at the College of Business and Economics at WWU.
Nick Kaiser’s company Saturna contributed $3,500 to the coal-funded SAVEWhatcom PAC in 2013. He also donated $6,400 to the Whatcom County Republicans in 2013. In the 2013 Whatcom County election, the SAVEWhatcom/Whatcom First affiliated PAC’s and the Whatcom Republican’s focus was on attempting to get a slate of four conservative County Council candidates elected who were thought most likely to approve the permit/s needed for the proposed GPT. The council is one of the decision makers on the GPT permit/s.
Nick Kaiser/Saturna Capital contributed $10,000 on Feb. 18, 2014 to the Whatcom County Republicans.
Hart Hodges, Director of the Center for Business and Economics Research at WWU, was a panelist at the WBA-hosted June 22, 2015 forum. Hodges and the CBER were commissioned by the WBA in 2014 to prepare a report regarding the economic impact from the businesses in the Cherry Point industrial area. That report continues to be used by SSA Marine and the WBA to advocate for the GPT project.
Along with SSA Marine’s marketing mechanism the Northwest Jobs Alliance, a business/industry advocacy group called Keep Washington Competitive (KWC), sponsored the WBA-hosted June 22 panel forum. KWC is designed to target the scope of the EISs for the proposed MBTL and GPT coal terminals, target environmental regulations, and attempt to limit environmental review scope and duration. KWC is closely associated with the Association for Washington Business (AWB), and a press conference was held on February 3, 2014, at the AWB’s office in Olympia, announcing the new group. AWB has been a very strong advocate for GPT.
Former WA Attorney General Rob McKenna announced the launching of KWC in Feb 2014 on his smartergovernmentwa website. His website affords him a platform to try to discredit Governor Inslee and his administration, attack environmental regulations, and give himself a presence while he likely is waiting to run for office. In November 2013, Rob McKenna, working for Orrick law firm, prepared formal joint comments for the EIS scoping process for MBTL on behalf of Montana and North Dakota. McKenna challenged Washington’s constitutional right to require a broad review of impacts of the coal export terminals.
KWC and the Whatcom Business Alliance had co-sponsored a pro-Gateway Pacific Terminal forum back on September 17, 2014. A group of demonstrators in a non-violent direct action, disrupted the forum showing their opposition to GPT. That is probably why Tony Larson’s WBA kept the recent June 22 pro-GPT panel forum location secret from the public. Back in September 2014, SSA Marine/GPT had sent out a September 16, 2014 promotional piece via its email list which advertised the KWC/WBA’s June 17 pro-GPT forum at Mt. Baker.
Let’s look at the incestuous world of these advocacy groups as they relate to the coal terminal:
Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA) members include:
–Gateway Pacific Terminal (SSA Marine)
–Wyoming Infrastructure Authority (WIA has $1 billion in bonding authority to finance transmission and generation infrastructure – coal export terminals)
–Mills Electric (owned by John Huntley co-chair Northwest Jobs Alliance)
–Chet Dow (GPT booster, Committee Officer for the coal terminal-funded Whatcom First PAC, Whatcom Charter Review Commissioner, and Executive Board member of Whatcom Republicans)
Listed as board of Directors for the Association of Washington Business (AWB):
–SSA Marine VP Bob Watters
–Johan Hellman Exec. Director Govt. Affairs for BNSF
–John Stuhlmiller, WA State Farm Bureau
Listed on the Advisory Board for Keep Washington Competitive (KWC):
–John Stuhlmiller CEO of WA State Farm Bureau
–Kris Johnson, President AWB
Selected listed members of KWC include:
–Association of Washington Business AWB
–Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports
–Brad Owens, Northwest Jobs Alliance
–Craig Cole, Gateway Pacific Terminal
–Nick Kaiser, Saturna
–Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen (Pro-GPT/BNSF spokesman and lobbyist Mike Elliott is Washington State Legislative Board for the union)
–Chet Dow, Northwest Business Club (GPT booster, Committee Officer for the coal terminal-funded Whatcom First PAC, Whatcom Charter Review Commissioner, and Exec. board member of Whatcom Republicans)
–Washington State Farm Bureau
–Lee Newgent, Executive Secretary Seattle Building and Construction Trades
Such a small world when it comes to coal export terminal projects.
Bellingham Herald Article: Panel: “Coal port would lift Whatcom economy”