August 14, 2016 Sandy Robson
If you are like the majority of Whatcom County residents who are opposed to the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT), AKA– “the coal terminal,” then you should care about who wins the 2016 election for Washington State Public Lands Commissioner. The commissioner (presently Peter Goldmark), oversees the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which is responsible for environmental protection in the state. Goldmark is not seeking re-election in 2016.
Earlier this year, on June 6th, DNR denied the lease (aquatic lands) needed by GPT applicant Pacific International Terminals (PIT) for its 48 million ton per year coal export terminal proposed at Cherry Point. That news dealt PIT a big blow.
Wondering what the Republican candidate running for Public Lands Commissioner Steve McLaughlin’s position is on the GPT project and the aquatic lands lease PIT needed, I sent an August 12, 2016 email asking him about DNR’s action having denied that lease. I wrote:
“I’m interested in your viewpoint on the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal project at Cherry Point.
“In June, subsequent to the USACE’s May 2016 denial of the permit for Gateway Pacific Terminal, DNR denied the needed aquatic lease for the project.
“What is your thinking on this issue in terms of DNR’s action?”
Mr. McLaughlin’s August 12 email response was:
“When I am elected, I will re-open this issue. We can have a safe operation and still protect our sensitive aquatic environment!”
Steve McLaughlin’s stated intent regarding the issue of DNR’s denial of the lease needed by PIT for its GPT project is that, if elected, he will “re-open” that issue.
McLaughlin’s intent on that issue seems to already have been communicated to some who have been closely involved with, and/or advocating for, the GPT project, when reviewing the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission website in terms of campaign contributions to his Public Lands Commissioner campaign.
Here are a few that stand out to me:
-James Waldo contributed $1,000 on July 1, 2016 to McLaughlin’s primary election race
-Dick Donahue contributed $500 on July 12, 2016 to McLaughlin’s primary election race
-Kris Halterman contributed $200 on July 15, 2016 to McLaughlin’s primary election race
–James Waldo is an attorney and Partner at Gordon Thomas Honeywell. Waldo is listed under the firms’ “Environment / Natural Resources Strategies” practice. Waldo was hired by GPT applicant SSA Marine, to help with the permitting and regulatory process to obtain the necessary permits for its GPT project.
–Kris Halterman, a KGMI conservative radio talk show host and former Whatcom Tea Party board member, is listed as Committee Chair and Campaign Manager on the SAVEWhatcom Political Action Committee (PAC) registration form.
–Dick Donahue hosts the KGMI talk radio show, “Wealth Wake Up,” and is the founder of Asset Advisors, LLC, a Northwest Washington wealth management firm.
Together, Kris Halterman and Dick Donahue started the “SAVEWhatcom” and the affiliated “Whatcom First” coal terminal (GPT) interest-funded PACs in August and September 2013.
The SAVEWhatcom PAC and its affiliated WhatcomFirst PAC were formed for the November Whatcom County Council election that year. The two PACs were strong advocates for the GPT project, and in 2013, were funded primarily with $149,000 from SSA Marine/Pacific International Terminals, BNSF, and coal companies. These dual PACs’ efforts were primarily focused on attempting to get a slate of four conservative Whatcom County Council candidates elected who were thought most likely to approve County permits needed for GPT.
–The Washington State Farm Bureau has been advocating for GPT for years and CEO John Stuhlmiller is usually doing the advocating for GPT on behalf of the WA Farm Bureau. Stuhlmiller criticized the Department of Ecology’s July 2013 decision on requiring a broad environmental review for both the GPT and the Millennium Bulk Terminal Longview coal export terminals in this July 2013 statement from WA 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.”
The WA State Farm Bureau commissioned Steven Globerman, Professor of International Business at Western Washington University, to produce a 2013 report on the economic implications of the Gateway Pacific and the MBTL (Longview WA) coal export terminals to other industries. That report was advocating the supposed importance of both coal terminals.
Stuhlmiller also submitted, on behalf of the WA State Farm Bureau, an EIS scoping comment regarding the Millennium Bulk Terminal Longview, on Nov. 15, 2013. In his EIS comment, Stuhmiller referenced Steven Globerman’s report. Link to that EIS comment: http://www.millenniumbulkeiswa.gov/co…/MBTL-EIS-0003133.html
This November, I’ll be voting for Hillary Franz for WA State Commissioner of Public Lands. Here is a link to her bio: