Saturday March 12, 2017 Dena Jensen
I am posting a letter that I sent on March 11, 2017 to BP’s Associate Director of NW Government and Public Affairs Pam Brady, who is on the Board of Directors of the Whatcom Business Alliance. The Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA) is increasingly promoting their campaign against elements of the Whatcom County Council Proposed Cherry Point Amendments to our County’s long-term planning document, the Comprehensive Plan.
WBA’s preservecherrypoint.com webpage contains untrue information about the Whatcom County Council and a study that is proposed in the County Council and Planning Commission versions of the Cherry Point Amendments. That inaccurate information leads off this webpage, “The Whatcom County Council is considering passing a study to kill jobs at Cherry Point and cut education funding for schools in our communities.” The page proceeds to call for people to take action by contacting the County Council. There are different form-generated comments provided, that appear every ten minutes or so when the page is revisited. Signs are showing up around the County with the preservecherrypoint.com web address on them.
On March 8, 2017 WBA President Tony Larson sat in for KGMI’s The Morning Show host Dillon Honcoop , and asserted at around the 34 minute mark in the show,”And what seems to be happening is that the County Council, in some cases, like for example, trying to limit exports, uh, period, from Cherry Point, or export, exports of any kind of legal products.” This assertion of Mr. Larson’s is patently untrue.
Below is the text of my letter:
Subject: Regarding the Cherry Point Amendments and BP’s future at Cherry Point
Associate Director NW Government and Public Affairs
Communications and External Affairs
Dear Ms. Brady:
I am writing to call on BP Cherry Point to demonstrate its dedication to working in harmony with Lummi Nation’s treaty rights, with the surrounding community, and with the land, air, water, and lifeforms that are part of the aquatic reserve at Cherry Point.
I live in Birch Bay about a mile and a half from BP Cherry Point. I have been to at least one of the meetings of the Whatcom County Planning Commission where you have testified and have read some of your comments regarding the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan’s Cherry Point Amendments. I have also seen many recent ads in numerous venues, which BP is running, stating the benefits which the corporation you work for feels they offer to Washington State and Whatcom County.
Here is an excerpt from a letter that BP Cherry Point, Refinery Manager Robert K. Allendorf made in a July 5, 2016 letter to the Whatcom County Council regarding the Council’s early version of proposed Cherry Point Amendments and the study proposed in Policy 2CC-15 “to develop recommendations for legal ways the County can work to limit fossil fuel exports”:
“Efforts to restrict ‘fossil fuel exports’ would not change consumer demand for the products we make; rather, it would apply artificial pressure on the market, increasing costs for the entire supply chain, and ultimately harming consumers who need the products we make.”
I believe that the reason there is a consumer demand for the products that BP transports and processes at its refinery at Cherry Point, exists in good part due to your company, other petroleum corporations, and industry advocacy groups. These enterprises advertise and promote the industry and the fossil fuel products sold in a way to make them attractive to consumers and to convey to the public that they will suffer without them. In doing so, your company is notably responsible for maintaining and potentially increasing demand for fossil fuel products. Also, petroleum industry lobbyists promote those products and the operations that extract, transport, and process them and seek advantages for them from our government agencies.
It is becoming apparent to me, Ms. Brady, due to the fact that you are a Board Member of the Whatcom Business Alliance, which is running a huge campaign against the proposed study to find legal ways for the County to work to limit the expanded export of unrefined fossil fuels, that BP likely intends to increase their transport and export of dangerous products, such as crude oil, out of Cherry Point. This is something that was not agreed upon by any government agencies, affected Native American Nations, other Cherry Point stakeholders or the surrounding community when BP came to do business here a few decades ago. Thus, I believe it wise and vital for government agencies to work to study what legal options there are for creating regulations that protect the community, BP and other Cherry Point workers, the aquatic reserve, and the treaty protected waters at Cherry Point and in the Salish Sea from increasing transport and export of the most toxic and hazardous unrefined fossil fuel products we are aware of.
Meanwhile BP Cherry Point did not have to have an EIS to gain initial permits for its refinery. There was no EIS required for the crude-by-rail trains now posing a physical threat to our community, to you and other Cherrry Point workers, and to the environment that they sit within and pass through. That BP would object to this currently proposed study which is focused, not on all expansion, not on all transport/export, but simply on expansion of transport/export of unrefined fossil fuels above levels that were in existence in July 2016 seems alarming and to be evidence of plans that BP has, to do this very thing. I am not okay with this.
BP handles and processes many toxic and dangerous substances, and despite the regulations that currently exist and the brave and diligent efforts of all the workers there, there have been numerous instances over the last few years where those substances and refinery processes or equipment have escaped the control of employees tasked with trying to keep them from harming anyone or anything. For my own safety, I can try to move away from the industrial area, away from where the crude oil trains run, away from where there might be pipelines running underneath me, however BP and other Cherry Point employees remain locked to the most dangerous zones unless they leave their jobs. And the life forms and plants and lands and waters of Xwe’chi’eXen have no warning or ability to escape at all.
I remind you of BP’s Texas City Refinery explosion that happened just 12 years ago which killed 15 workers, and injured more than 180 others. I remind you of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill just 7 years ago, where 11 people went missing and which was historically the largest accidental marine oil spill, and which brought about an intolerable level of decimation to marine life, wildlife, and their habitat.
I remind you of these disasters when I tell you that:
The donations BP makes to schools or our state park or the United Way?
The restoration work BP has workers do around the refinery and other places in Whatcom County?
All the investment BP has made in improving environmental standards, safety, and efficiency?
I am sorry, but I do not consider these to be noble gifts. These are mostly provided by the sweat of employees who do BP’s work, and are not to be used as advertisements and bragging rights by the corporation you work for. I consider all of these things to be restitution to be made by BP for those past disasters and for the other injuries and deaths that are less known and/or kept under wraps. When we make mistakes we try to do better. When we make catastrophic mistakes our repayment never ends, for how can you truly make up for such catastrophes? I commend BP for working to make amends and to mitigate ways that your business continues to disrupt and damage the area it inhabits. I do this at my home and in my community as well. But the restorative work and charitable donations are not presents that are piled up for us. They fill a hole that has been dug.
Thus, I call on BP Cherry Point to stop making plans to expand the transport/export of energy products that are so rapidly becoming outdated due to their ever-growing threat to our planet and to the rapid advancement and availability of safer and more renewable energy sources. I love that BP has the largest operated renewables business among its oil and gas peers. Please consult with Lummi Nation and other Cherry Point stakeholders to find ways to make it possible to promptly transition to and grow this part of your business at Cherry Point.