July 22, 2016 Dena Jensen
Dear Whatcom County Council:
I have been involved for 5 years in working in opposition to projects at Cherry Point that do or will adversely affect the air, lands, waters, life forms, and/or cultural and spiritual resources located there or the treaty rights of affected tribes, which in turn have or will have an adverse effect on the rest of our region. The only question has ever been, whether those adverse effects can be lightened to some degree acceptable to either the Lummi and Nooksack Nations or the majority of people in our community.
Because of my activity in this regard, I have been aware of the restrictions on the County Council’s ability to listen to me and the other citizens in our community regarding the effects of proposed industry at Cherry Point for many of those five years. Obviously, I have lived with this obstruction of my rights, of my voice to be heard, for all this time, being frustrated by it, but not speaking much to you about it. Now, I find myself at this point of culminating circumstances that makes me realize the massive impact it is having on how the council can do the business of representing county residents and upholding their obligations to Native American Nations.
Since the council has been advised by legal authorities to refrain from being exposed to issues regarding Cherry Point that could in any way influence your ability to make an unbiased decision toward application permits that may (or now, may not) be under review, for years all of us concerned about adverse impacts of industrial projects at Cherry Point have remained silent in voicing those concerns to the council.
But here is what I realized in the process of really doing some pointed thinking about that legal recommendation to you council members. If you were supposed to stay away from issues that could influence your unbiased opinion about application permits, you certainly should not be listening, not only to spokespeople from SSA Marine about issues regarding Cherry Point, but you should not be listening to industry advocates, or the BP and other Cherry Point Industrial executives, or industrial and construction workers talking about the benefits of their businesses to our community. Just as hearing my comments about what I identify as the adverse impacts of certain proposed projects can be perceived to bias the council members’ decision making capacity, how can listening to how great the existing industries are and the benefits of their jobs and how much effort to protect the environment they do, not have some impact on certain people who may be among the council members, on whether permitting certain applications may be a good or bad idea.
If we can’t talk about one Cherry Point industrial project, why can we talk about any, and if we can’t talk about any, pro or con, then where is our due process and how can the council be legally carrying out Growth Management requirements for public participation in the Comprehensive Plan?