The Lummi Nation tribe has released the letter they sent to the Army Corps of Engineers earlier this week opposing the proposed Cherry Point coal export terminal just north of Bellingham.
The letter is emphatic. "Review of the known facts, data, site plans, and the development and operational goals of the projects have resulted in a clear and convincing conclusion that the proposed projects, if built and operated, would have a substantial impairment on the Lummi treaty fishing right harvest at XweChiexen (Cherry Point)," Lummi Nation leader Tim Ballew writes in the July 30 letter.
The Lummi Tribe's "unconditional and unequivocal opposition to the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal," as the letter begins, creates a major roadblock for the controversial project, which would export about 50 million metric tons of coal a year to Asia.
The plan, after a major public outcry, is already cued up to undergo a more comprehensive environmental impact statement (including analysis of GHG emissions and traffic impacts from the coal trains) than was initially contemplated. The news of the broader environmental impact hit earlier this week. The Lummi letter could be a devastating follow-up punch.
The Lummi Tribe's treaty rights give them weighty legal power; the Army Corps acknowledged earlier this week to the Bellingham Herald that tribal objections have forced them to scuttle projects.
The Cherry Point coal terminal already faces serious opposition in Seattle because of the projected 18 coal train trips a day, with a 7,000 foot train arriving every 1.3 hours blocking major freight intersections including along the North waterfront at Broad, Clay, Vine, and Wall Streets, for example, and along the South end at S. Holgate, S. Lander, S. Horton and S. Spokane Streets.
The Lummi Nation, located West of Bellingham, is part of Mayor Mike McGinn's Leadership Alliance Against Coal along with the Swinomish and Tulalip Tribes.
McGinn released a statment this afternoon after the Lummi Nation rleased its letter. He said:
“I support the Lummi Nation as they formally express their opposition to the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point. The Lummi Nation is justified in their opposition based on the significant threats to not only their entire way of life, but their treaty rights."
Here's the full letter from the Lummin Nation:
July 30, 2013
Colonel Bruce A. Estok, District Engineer
US Army Corps of Engineers - Seattle District
PO Box 3755
Seattle, WA 98124
Lummi Opposition: Proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal Bulk Dry Goods Shipping Facility (Ref. No. NWS-2008-260) and the Custer Spur Rail Expansion (Ref. No. NWS-2011-325) Projects
Dear Colonel Estok,
The Lummi Nation has unconditional and unequivocal opposition to the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (Ref. No. NWS-2008-260) and the inter-related Custer Spur Rail Expansion project (Ref. No. NWS-2011-325) projects at Cherry Point. As described in our resolution 2012-060 and in our previous letters dated October 17, 2011 and January 21, 2013 (attached), the Lummi Nation has a number of significant objections to the proposed projects.
In developing the Lummi Nation’s position on the projects, the Nation heeded the following principles:
“Everything is connected.” As our elders conveyed through our Xwlemi’chosen (Lummi language) that cultural and spiritual significances expressed by our ancestors for the land, water and the environment are all connected.
“We must manage our resources for the seventh generation of our people.” Our unique heritage requires us to honor our past, present and future generations. Since time immemorial we have managed resources that we are borrowing from our children and grandchildren.
As a tribal government, we have adopted the critical goal that we must preserve, promote, and protect our Schelangen (“way of life”).
Review of the known facts, data, site plans, and the development and operational goals of the projects have resulted in a clear and convincing conclusion that the proposed projects, if built and operated, would have a substantial impairment on the Lummi treaty fishing right harvest at XweChiexen (Cherry Point) and throughout the Lummi “usual and accustomed” fishing areas. Any impact on the Lummi treaty fishing right is inherently an impact on the Lummi way of life. The Lummi Nation cannot see how the proposed projects could be developed in a manner that does not amount to significant impairment on the treaty fishing right and a negative effect on the Lummi way of life. Please recognize this letter as a clear statement of opposition to these projects from the Lummi Nation.
The Lummi Nation expects that the Corps of Engineers (Corps), on behalf of the United States of America, to honor the trust obligations to the Lummi Nation related to these proposed projects. We believe that the Corps should see that these projects would without question result in significant and unavoidable impacts and damage to our treaty rights. If the projects at Cherry Point are constructed and operated there will be impacts on the Lummi treaty rights forever. It is imperative that the Corps carry out its trust responsibilities as they relate to the Lummi Nation and the treaty rights to fish, gather and hunt in the usual and accustomed places.
These comments in no way waive any future opportunity to participate in government-to-government consultation regarding the proposed projects and the associated state or federal government issued permits. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the attached comments or to schedule a government-to-government meeting regarding these projects.
Tim Ballew II, Chair
Lummi Indian Business Council