Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Stated Clerk Writes to Army Corps of Engineers about Increased Coal Export Traffic in the Pacific NW

Col. John G. Buck
Seattle District Commander
Seattle District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
P.O. Box 3755
Seattle, WA 98 124-3755

Re:  Support of Lummi Nation Request for Denial of Permit for the Proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal Bulk Dry Goods Shipping Facility (Ref. No. NWS-2008-260).

Dear Colonel Buck:

As Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a Christian denomination in the Reformed tradition, it is my responsibility to communicate the will of the General Assembly, our church’s highest governing body, which is composed of representatives from all 171 presbyteries in the nation. Last year, the 221st General Assembly (2014) expressed, by unanimous consent, serious concern about the expansion of coal transportation through the Pacific Northwest. I therefore urge you to deny the permit for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal Bulk Dry Goods Shipping Facility at Cherry Point, WA.

The Assembly “recognize[d] that regional issues of extraction, pollution, transportation, and export have interstate, national, and global implications, both for environmental justice concerns and for global climate disruption/change. Such impacts range from coal dust pollution, diesel particulates, potential for derailments, negative impacts on real estate, and public health and safety concerns, to global climate change, sea level rise, acidification of oceans, severe weather events, and the ethical dilemma of profiting from the export of coal and other fossil fuels for use in countries whose environmental and pollution restrictions are less stringent.”

For these reasons we also urge that any expansion of coal train routes undergo a complete Environmental Impact Assessment conducted at multiple locations along the proposed expansion route so as to assess the impact on vulnerable communities.

To add to these environmental justice concerns, I understand that the proposed Cherry Point coal terminal will be located on Lummi Nation sacred sites. This terminal threatens Lummi fishing rights and their way of life. The potential damage to salmon, crab and herring fisheries cannot be mitigated.  Nor can the damage to ancestral homes and archeological sites be repaired once they are destroyed.   All of this has been clearly spelled out by the tribe in numerous letters to the Army Corps of Engineers. Siting this coal terminal at Cherry Point plainly violates Lummi Nation treaty rights. As a church, we have confessed our complicity in the oppression of this nation’s First People and affirm that “programs and services to Indian peoples are not ‘gifts,’ but are rights accorded to them as citizens of the United States and as members of Indian tribes who secured those rights through ‘government to government’ agreements and treaties.” I write to stand in solidarity with the Lummi Nation and urge you to reject the permit for the new Terminal.

Our covenants are sacred -- those with God, those between the U.S. government and the governments of indigenous people, and our covenant with each other to till and to keep the Earth healthy for generations to come. I call on the Army Corps of Engineers to uphold the treaty rights of the Native communities of the Northwest, to ensure that our extraction, transportation and export of fossil fuels not do harm to vulnerable communities and the environment, and immediately to deny the permit application for a proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point, Xwe’chi’eXen in the Native language.   


The Reverend Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

CC:      The Honorable Jay Inslee
            The Honorable Patty Murray
The Honorable Maria Cantwell
The Honorable Suzan DelBene
The Honorable Rick Larsen
The Honorable Jaime Herrera Beutler
The Honorable Dan Newhouse
The Honorable Cathy McMorris Rodgers
The Honorable Derek Kilmer
The Honorable Jim McDermott
The Honorable Dave Reichert
The Honorable Adam Smith
The Honorable Denny Heck