Cherry Pointedit.jpg
Lummi Nation protests plans for a coal export terminal at Cherry Point
The Lummi Indian tribe has lent their voice to a growing coalition, including

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Lummi Indians to NW Coal Producers: 'Don't Tread on Us'

Cherry Pointedit.jpg
Lummi Nation protests plans for a coal export terminal at Cherry Point
The Lummi Indian tribe has lent their voice to a growing coalition, including environmental groups and green-minded politicians, in opposing plans by SSA Marine for a huge Gateway Terminal coal export terminal at Cherry Point in Bellingham.

See Also: Seattle City Council Votes Unanimously (and Symbolically) Against Transport of Coal

The controversial proposal, which has been the subject of blistering debate for months, could result in a sharp increase in coal-moving trains -- perhaps nine a day -- slogging through Bellingham, as well as the construction of six additional terminals on the West Coast, including facilities in Longview, Wash., and Coos Bay, Oregon.

"This is a violation of our treaty rights," Jewell James, manager of the tribes' sovereignty and treaty protection office, told the Daily Weekly.

The Lummis are fearful that shipping millions of tons of coal through northern Washington will have a deleterious impact on their fishing rights and irrevocably damage religious and sacred sites, such as Cherry Point, if the coal should spill.

"The Lummi Indian Council," added James, "is very upset that the (Cherry Point) site has been disturbed and that there has been no prosecution of these companies (SSA Marine and Pacific International Terminals). They were aware of the historical significance of the site and yet they bulldozed right through it."

What's at stake here is this: U.S. coal producers have been badly hurt by a sharp demand in domestic coal, what with plentiful supplies of natural gas and new technologies such as fracking, both of which have made it cheaper for businesses and consumers to switch to gas.

As a result, Big Coal has relied on coal harvests elsewhere in the country, while at the same time, turning its monied eyes toward exporting the stuff to energy-hungry Asian nations -- hence the need for exporting terminals near the Pacific Ocean.

But the tribes are having none of it.

In fact, Lummi tribal leaders, as the New York Times reported, recently burned a mock million-dollar check as a symbolic statement that no amount of money can buy their cooperation.

The first public hearings for the terminal projects, conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers, are set to begin Oct. 27 in Bellingham, at Squailcum High School. For more information, contact Tyler Schroeder at 360-676-6907.

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