Cherry Point coal terminal completes long-range plan, benefits county
From The Seattle Times on June 19, 2011: “The proposed Cherry Point dry-bulk commodity terminal near Bellingham is an opportunity to create jobs and protect the environment, write guest columnists Ken Oplinger and Chris Johnson. Opponents criticize the project because its first commodity, coal, is associated with global climate change.”
Ken Oplinger, is president/CEO of the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Chris Johnson is vice president of the Northwest Washington Central Labor Council.
Here’s an excerpt from Mr. Oplinger and Mr. Johnson’s piece:
That terminal, called Gateway Pacific, will create more than 3,000 jobs for at least two years of construction, support 1,200 to 1,700 permanent jobs at full operations and pay about $10 million a year in taxes.
It couldn’t have come at a better time.
Here in Whatcom County, nearly 10,000 citizens are unemployed. Our personal income is 16 percent below the state average, but our cost of living is like Seattle’s.
Despite all this — the desperate need for good jobs, the millions in tax revenue and the environmental safeguards — opponents are determined to stop Gateway Pacific. Why? They don’t like that along with commodities such as grain and potash, its principal cargo for now would be coal.
Ironically, nearly a third of the county’s electricity comes from coal. In fact, half of America’s electricity comes from coal. Nevertheless, these opponents wish to end the world’s use of coal and they intend to make a point by derailing the Gateway Pacific Terminal.
Stopping the terminal will not stop China from using coal; the world has plenty. It will only stop China from using our cleaner coal, which has less mercury, sulfur and nitrogen oxides. Opponents say the coal China uses affects our air quality. So if they use our coal, our air will actually be cleaner.
Stopping this terminal will not even stop U.S. coal exports. The U.S. has at least 10 coal-export terminals and will export more. British Columbia has three coal-export terminals and all are capable of expansion. If opponents succeed in stopping Gateway Pacific, the coal trains will continue to run right past us up to Canada, which will get the jobs and tax revenue.
Frankly, what we should be concentrating on is taking care of our local environment. The project is starting an exhaustive environmental review under the oversight of federal, state and local agencies. Let’s allow these agencies — and SSA Marine — to do their jobs instead of arbitrarily opposing something without all the facts.
You can read the whole article at The Seattle Times.
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