Our city of Ferndale sits close to Cherry Point. We consider Cherry Point to be our neighbor. As we move forward to the scoping period regarding the Gateway Pacific Terminal, it may be time to study the past and the present.
We appreciate the industrial base that exists right now as our neighbors. The Mobile Oil refinery started the trend to Cherry Point in 1954. Mobile Oil, now Phillips 66, B.P. Cherry Point and Alcoa/Intalco give us an example of what benefits we can receive from an industrial base. All three of these existing entities have spent millions of dollars constantly improving their operations. Many of these improvements are related to a goal of cleaner air, cleaner fuels and a better environment, a healthier county and their own employees.
The recent retrofit of B.P. Cherry Point, in conjunction with the Northwest Clean Air Agency, brought improvements totaling a little less than $400 million. From double-hulled tankers delivering crude oil, to the production of cleaner diesel fuel, they have responded when we ask and demand a cleaner, greener output. As all of these companies spent those large sums right here, the benefits and pass-through to all of Whatcom County is very significant. We the citizens and our regulating agencies have asked and required better standards and they have performed.
We will now be asked to offer our opinions on the Gateway bulk cargo terminal project. The scoping period asks you to submit your thoughts and opinions. You can do this in numerous ways. This is a great example of government seeking the opinion of its citizens.
None of us can be certain of where the future of the Gateway terminal will land. The scoping and permit process may take up to four years. If approved, the construction may take up to two or three years.
We should realize that coal and increased train traffic are at the top of public concern. Will coal still be a viable product to ship in 2018? Have any of us found an expert to predict that exact future? You do not have to spend much time in research to believe that a multi-product, bulk shipping terminal is the intelligent choice for the future of the business. And that's what is being proposed.
We don't know the exact future, but we do know some things about today. We know that residential houses, factories and shipping terminals built today are superior in many ways to those built in the past. Our plumbing uses less water. Our stormwater is regulated. With wind, solar, insulation improvement and more efficient products, energy conservation is the norm. We hold our citizens and corporations to higher standards than ever before, and by 2018 that will only increase.
We should believe in the American worker. We should care about the engineer, inspector, longshoreman and workers who sacrifice their backs and hands with manual labor. We should believe they also care about us - their neighbors and their friends. They want to live well, earn a living and not harm our environment in the process. We should know that our concerns as to the handling of coal products are heard and acted upon. We should look with open minds to those solutions.
We should know that railroad traffic will continue to increase regardless of this project. The public process will improve the railroad infrastructure, and its effects on roads, crossings and more will and should continue. We need a continued partnership and not a battleground.
The Cherry Point Industrial Area has been a benefit to Whatcom County. We should hope that it continues to evolve, improve and prosper in the years ahead. Now is the time to get involved.
Gary S. Jensen is the mayor of Ferndale.
TAKE OUR POLL
PROJECT MEETINGS, COMMENTS
Two of seven "scoping meetings," to determine what environmental and economic impacts should be studied for Gateway Pacific Terminal, will be in Whatcom County:
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at Squalicum High School, 3773 E. McLeod Road, Bellingham.
3 to 7 p.m. Nov. 29 at Ferndale Events Center, 5715 Barrett Road.
People also can send comments about the scoping to email@example.com.