This is a Sept. 2012 article from Seattle Business Magazine. The author, Elaine Bowers, quotes Ken Opplinger, head of the Bellingham Chamber of Commerce. “At the Chamber of Commerce, Oplinger says he expects the BNSF Railway to “come to the table” to look at ways of lessening the impact of additional trains, including possibly moving tracks that now cross the city’s new waterfront redevelopment site and creating a federally defined “quiet zone” through Bellingham. A new route would eliminate train whistles by requiring double crossing arms, fencing near the crossing to limit pedestrian access and other safety measures. “Rather than try to fight it off,” he says, “if we can find ways to work with the railroad and mitigate the effects, we would be much better off.”Safeguard the Southfork has always maintained that the potentiality for employing the totality of the BNSF system in Whatcom County exists; that the alternative to the coastal route in the South Fork Valley and the farmlands of eastern/ northern Whatcom County from Wickersham to Sumas along with a Lynden spur could be employed to mitigate capacity and political impacts. Opplinger speaks to BNSF’s need to seek compromise with the establishment of a new route and operational procedures.It is BNSF’s prerogative to increase capital investment and upgrade to it’s heaviest duty Ribbon Rail on the farmland route recently; even when current rail traffic does not necessarily warrant it. Those of us who have been monitoring the improvements to enhance rail capacity through the Whatcom Farmland route as well as the Abbotsford to Westshore (and Blaine), cringe at the possibility that GPT watchers are not sufficiently savvy to the coy game that is playing out once GPT and their friends start eyeing a “NEW ROUTE”.By promoting misinformation and confusion BNSF and GPT obsfucate the possibility of employing the alternative farmland route, removing it from discourse while simultaneously laying the groundwork for using the route either as part of a loop which would ameliorate capacity problems as well as, in part the social controversies in Bellingham.GPT watchers would be wise to familiarize themselves with the history of the state legislature’s proposed Commerce Corridor for Washington State which was studied by Wilbur Smith & Associates in 2002. The Commerce Corridor envisioned enhanced rail and concomitant highway redevelopment from the northern border to the Columbia River and found it unfeasible for economic and environmental reasons.
You’ve probably heard the CSX Railroad radio ads. It’s so easy to let it swish between your ears, “hurray for green and efficient trains”. The pitch is: Trains can transport one ton of freight 500 miles on 1 gallon of fuel.
So here’s how it adds up for coal going to the Gateway Pacific Terminal.
One coal car carries one hundred tons. It travels about 1500 miles.
One coal car utilizes 1 gallon of fuel per mile, multiply by 3 (1500 miles) x 100 (tons) which is 300 gallons of fuel to move one car of coal from the Powder River Basin to Cherry Point.
A coal train has 150 cars, thus requiring 45 thousand gallons of fuel for one trip. In order to gauge this; visualize a gasoline tanker truck and trailer set, you’ll need four loads, each set holds eleven thousand gallons.
If we have 9 trains per day as stated by SSA, traveling to Cherry Point, then that equals 405 thousand gallons per day for diesel fuel.
Multiply that by one year and that is 147, 825,000 gallons of fuel per year and that is one way not round trip.
147, 825,000 gallons of fuel per year, give that some thought!
We are exporting a natural resource, coal, which means more jobs for Asian manufacturers, fewer for America, and we are taking near to 150 million gallons of diesel fuel off the American market, limiting supply to American farms and industry and raising the price to American business and consumers, destroying our landscape, polluting air and water and decimating communities to do this.
How might someone who believes in the necessity of GPT explain the need for it in Wall Street’s own terms?
Don’t want a gravel pit?
Coal trains aren’t cool?
Other issues of concern?
One simple act can make an enormous difference—VOTE!
Here’s your chance to meet candidates, learn about their stance on particular issues, and express your concerns and support.
County Council Candidate Forum at the VanZandt Hall
Date: Wednesday September 7
Who: Alan Black, Christina Maginnis, Pete Kremen, Barbara Brenner
Please come! Everyone welcome. Enjoy drinks and light snacks to start off the evening. Next, we’ll hear platform highlights from each candidate in a forum moderated by community member, Steve Powers. Following, you’ll have a chance to ask the candidates questions and get answers.
See you Wednesday,
Anna Martin, Friends of the Nooksack Samish Watershed
Nicole Brown, SafeGuard the South Fork
Steve Powers, Community Member
2nd Annual South Fork Nooksack River Canoe Clean Up—September 10th
The Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Associations’ work party culminates at Everybody’s Store on SATURDAY, Sept 10 from 1-3PM.
At that time Peter Kremen and Jack Louws will be present to meet and greet friends and neighbors.
There will be light refreshments and people are urged to bring a dish to make it a better time than ever.
*Please pass information on about these timely events. Thank You!
It was great seeing everyone gathered for the McKibbon event tonight, committed to standing up for what we believe is right and doing our part to stop coal exports from Cherry Point (and beyond). Thank you to REsources for hosting the event.
The City of Bellingham’s Shoreline Master Program Hearing is Wed, May 25. Aligned with this important hearing related to water and shoreline rights, there are opportunities for getting informed and involved on the coal export issue also facing Whatcom County.
The meeting room at city hall is small and can be easily packed. The crowd will probably overflow. We can let our strength be seen. City Hall is behind the City Library. There is an open area between the library and in front of city hall. It can accommodate a lot of people. A street separates the Whatcom County Administration from City Hall. Sidewalks go around the block where the library is, the city hall block and the Whatcom County Building. If people come early [4:30ish] before the workers and elected officials of both the City and Whatcom County go home, they can see our strength.