September 18, 2016 Dena Jensen
Dear Whatcom County Council:
I have been trying to think if I have anything to say, now that you have already cast your votes to remain in a relationship with GPT proponents/consultants for another six months.
Here’s what I have and I deliver it in an effort to have it be helpful in future considerations and actions by the County Council:
Amy Glasser had posted on Facebook: “Ken Mann asked me why it matters to us that the EIS consultant job was extended when the permit was denied already.” I believe that to imply the vote to extend the contract is of no significance, because the permit has been denied by the Army Corps, is disingenuous. And if not, then it seems Council Member Mann, and perhaps others, should be working harder to inform themselves.
Here is just one response to Council Member Mann’s question: It was brought up during the Finance Committee meeting and Council Member Browne has subsequently stated that “If Council had not approved the CH2MHill contract PIT could have still contracted directly with CH2MHill to do the small amount of remaining work…” Therefore there is some benefit to GPT proponents and their project to keeping this relationship with the county. There would be no benefit if the project were truly dead by virtue of the Army Corps’ decision. Meanwhile, the Army Corps’ decision to deny the permit was based on the fact that the construction of the GPT facility would violate Lummi Usual and Accustomed treaty fishing rights. Therefore, there is no benefit to the county government to maintain that relationship because, I believe, to do so would be in conflict with their obligation to uphold treaty rights.
It was difficult to have numerous council members tell those present at the September 13, 2016 meeting what it was they thought people believed about certain aspects of the contract extension because none of us present had really made any statements that indicated the beliefs being attributed to “some people.” One person who spoke had been under the impression that the county was paying the $51,000. No one else had said that. I heard no one say they thought voting no on the contract extension was a no vote on or cancellation of the permit. Since we were the ones who were there, it felt like it served to discredit our statements given during public session because maybe we were under some misapprehension. Meanwhile, since the assessments of what people believe was given after public session, we had no way to respond. If you are giving your comments about what you understand people believe based off of letters and emails, it would be good to make that clear, or if one specific person expressed it, then it would be good to indicate this.
I request that you all take action that demonstrates to the public that you are upholding your government to government relationship with Lummi Nation regarding the GPT project and issues regarding the Cherry Point UGA. I have seen and heard records of other county and committee meetings and there is visible proof of consultation on other issues. I have seen or heard none for GPT and the Cherry Point UGA. I know I have told you I was shocked and dismayed to learn Lummi Nation was not consulted in the assembling of Council Member Weimer’s amendments to the Cherry Point UGA section of the Land Use chapter of the Comprehensive Plan.
I request that you all take action to make sure the public is provided with records of all GPT-related documents and correspondence on the county’s GPT website. I know this is not required. But I also know that for an issue that has the keen level of public interest that GPT has, that it should go with out saying that it is of critical importance to due process and public participation that the citizens of our county have access to information about this process in a frequently updated manner. Seven months with no information for 2016, and then 6 weeks since additional subsequent correspondence or documents have been posted (and still remain unposted) is really outrageous to me, and should be to you too.
When Council Member Mann inquired at the 9/13/16 council meeting about making documents and correspondence available to the public, Deputy Executive Schroeder talked about current records requests, and separate from that, information access points other than the GPT webpage that have old GPT-related information posted. As for anything somewhat recent, there’s only a summary of information written from the administration’s perspective. That’s all we have: what someone else is telling us is true. Meanwhile there’s lots of people who have no idea that other members of the public are, for example, writing and asking for information to be made public. They know nothing of the informed (or not) questions that are being asked of the county or of answers they have received. If any of you are wishing more people were participating in their government, this would be a way for it to be encouraged!
And lastly I request that you all approve the extension of the emergency ordinance imposing a moratorium on the acceptance and processing of applications and permits for new or expanded facilities in the Cherry Point urban growth area, the primary purpose of which would be the shipment of unrefined fossil fuels not to be processed at Cherry Point. I ask that this extension is provided as often as necessary until the amendments to the Cherry Point UGA of the Land Use Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan are approved or until a permanent ordinance is in place with the same intent as the emergency ordinance.
I am a water protector. I am an air, land and life form protector. I hope that you all will show us that you are too!
This letter was sent to the following addresses:
and copied to these addresses: