Rick Larsen, protecting environment or supporting coal? / Facebook post, Sj Robson

larsen paris agreement4 hrs   December 13, 2015  Sandy Robson

Until Congressman Rick Larsen withdraws his support for GPT, his proclamations about his efforts to protect Washington state’s environment, ring hollow.

Rick Larsen said in a Facebook post yesterday (shown in attached photo):
“I also will continue my efforts to protect Washington state’s environment…”

How can Larsen tout that he is working to protect the environment when he publicly supports the proposed Gateway Pacific Coal Terminal at Cherry Point?

12391891_1103638603003388_2500257154542053911_nIn February 2011, when the project was announced, Larsen disseminated a press release stating his support for GPT which, if permitted and built, would handle, store, and export 48 million tons of coal. He has continued his support and advocacy of that project since 2011.

A June 22, 2015 Bellingham Herald article reported: “U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, one of the speakers at the luncheon, reiterated his support for Gateway Pacific Terminal, saying it was one solution to Whatcom’s weak employment numbers.”

Rick Larsen was a featured speaker at the pro-GPT luncheon event hosted by the Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA), Northwest Jobs Alliance (a marketing mechanism for GPT), and Keep Washington Competitive (a group spun-off from the Association of Washington Business in February 2014 after the news there would be a broad EIS for the GPT project). The event was held in Bellingham at Lakeway Inn’s Fox Hall, on June 22, 2015.

On April 2, 2015, Larsen hosted a town hall at WWU in Bellingham. WWU’s newspaper, The Western Front reported about that event in an April 3, 2015 article:
“I support the terminal [GPT] … because I saw it as a way to create good high paying construction jobs… in a county that has thousands of people out of work,” Larsen said in response to several challenges from community members. “I don’t have a decision-making role in it at all.”

While Larsen says he does not “have a decision-making role in it [GPT] at all,” he certainly has proven his willingness to have a role in influencing the public through his many efforts on behalf of GPT interests since 2011. And, he is rewarded with campaign contributions for those efforts.

Larsen has continued to throw his support behind GPT and GPT applicant SSA Marine (and SSA’s ultimate parent company FRS Capital Corp), and coal terminal interests, continue to fund Larsen’s campaigns.

In 2012, the year that the EIS scoping period began for the GPT project, GPT applicant SSA Marine, and Peabody Coal which has a throughput capacity contract to ship coal through GPT, each contributed $10,000 to Rick Larsen’s campaign. Goldman Sachs which at that time in 2012, was a 49% stakeholder in GPT (with SSA Marine), contributed $5,000 to Larsen.

In 2014, Larsen received a $4,000 contribution from FRS Capital Corp.

In 2016, so far, Larsen has received campaign contributions of $2,500 from FRS Capital Corp, and $1,000 from Straight Talk Consulting/Craig Cole (Cole is the local Bellingham consultant for SSA Marine for its GPT project).

Recently, on Dec. 2, 2015, the House voted to pass Amendment 13 which is attached to HR 8. This amendment prohibits the denial of a permit for the construction, operation, or maintenance of an export facility until all reviews required under NEPA are complete. This would pertain to the permit for GPT which the Lummi Nation requested back on January 5, 2015 that the U.S. Army Corps take immediate action and deny, due to the adverse impact GPT would have on its Nation’s treaty rights.

The vote on Amendment 13 was a “voice vote” so therefore there was no record of votes. With a “voice vote” the public then does not get to learn which way members of the House voted (aye or nay), so I contacted Larsen’s D.C. office to ask what his position was on that amendment.

I was told by his D.C. office staff that he supports Amendment 13.

He supports Amendment 13, which would stop the Army Corps of Engineers from making a determination whether impacts to the Lummi Nation’s U&A (usual and accustomed) treaty fishing rights are more than de minimis (too trivial to warrant legal review). Why doesn’t Larsen support the Lummi Nation and its treaty rights?

Our federal government, in this case, the Corps owes the highest fiduciary duty to protect Indian contract rights as embodied by treaties. This reality is entrenched in case law. That solemn duty and obligation owed to the Lummi Nation by the U.S. federal government is something the agency takes extremely seriously, and addresses separately from any Environmental Impact Statement the Corps is tasked with on proposed projects.

Amendment 13 infringes on that solemn duty and trust obligation of our federal government. As a legislator, sworn to uphold the constitution, Congressman Larsen should never support such a piece of legislation—I also believe it is immoral for him, and any other legislators to support such legislation.

Read Sandy’s post on her Facebook page here.

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