Arriving at the Oct. 27 scoping meeting for Gateway Pacific Terminal, I noticed an equal number of placards both for and against, setting the stage for a passionate debate. But, in listening to some 80 people make their appeals, I heard only three say anything positive about the proposed terminal. Case closed -- people against the terminal won.
But as I was leaving Squalicum High School I witnessed several young men loading all the pro-terminal signs into two vehicles and I realized these were the hired hands. SSA Marine did not need to show up at this meeting -- they have money -- lots of it. The citizens of Whatcom County are up against billion dollar coal and shipping industries. They promote a few jobs here but the real money goes to the Wyoming coal interests. They get the profits, China gets the dirty coal and I believe we get the headaches of train traffic and pollution. I believe railroads will ignore the ill-effects of coal dust just as the tobacco companies for years denied the ill-effects of smoking.
In 2011 Sunset Magazine said that Bellingham was thefifth-best place to live in the West, for our quality of life. At the meeting, speaker after speaker gave health, environmental, economic and social reasons why we do not want coal trains in our back yards. The question is, will we allow the billion dollar industries to pile drive us into submission?