Oil is a subject worth hearing about

My Turn

“Public Comment: This is the time for anyone wishing to speak before the council to do so. Please limit you remarks to 5 minutes.”

Them’s the rules. Period. No more no less. Anyone desiring to address the Hoquiam City Council may do so, assuming they can color between the lines set forth in those two fairly easy to comprehend sentences. I understand it. Do you? Well, Mayor Jack Durney decidedly does not.

Last Monday’s meeting found him interrupting speakers mid-sentence, attempting to shorten the time frame to two minutes or eliminate it entirely and move the comment period to the end of the meeting.

The second time he tried to invoke the two-minute rule on a speaker who hadn’t yet even made it to the podium, I just snapped. I yelled. I cursed. I was out of line and I am sorry. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to Mayor Durney, the entirety of the council, the police and fire chiefs, your reporter and every other person in attendance at the time of my outburst. I was the loudest person in the room and certainly the only one who opted to swear. But was I the rudest? Not by a damn sight.

As speaker after speaker relentlessly appealed for common sense, voiced legitimate concerns for our environment and the waters that feed us, and questioned the advisability of handing a gift-wrapped MDNS (mitigated determination of non-significance) to two companies proposing to tie up traffic countywide in perpetuity, it was fairly obvious that Mayor Jack Durney and City Administrator Brian Shay were not enjoying themselves.

Some years back, I attended a Hometown Hoquiam meeting. I walked out the door afterward feeling proud — of my city, of the decision Sandie and I made to move here, but mostly of the mayor. I distinctly remember thinking the concept was pure genius and whatever we were paying this guy simply wasn’t enough. He wanted to know what the people thought, and he took his program all over this small town to find out. So where in the hell was the concept of “community outreach” when it really mattered? The opinions and concerns of citizens and taxpayers on this most important subject ever in the history of Grays Harbor County were at that juncture not solicited by our mayor any more than they were welcomed last Monday night.

Ecology: (noun) 1. a branch of science concerned with the interrelationship of organism and their environment. 2. the totality or pattern of relations between organisms and their environment.

Huh? How’s that exactly? Now add “Department of” in front of it. It kind of sounds like an outfit that by definition should be looking to protect the environment, doesn’t it?

Maybe in other states that is the case, but here in Washington it means “Facilitator and Expediter of smarmy unctuous business.”

How exactly does a DOE get to be a “co-lead” spending your tax dollars and mine to not only initiate the spill problems in Grays Harbor and adjacent waterways but to try and clean it up if and when they eventually become successful?

Crude oil is an ugly business. Fracking consumed 50 million gallons of water in this country in 2012. Thirty-two gallons of water is used for every gallon of oil produced. Makes perfect sense to the oil companies. To drought-stricken farmers in California — eh, not so much. Then there are the spills — 1.2 million gallons in the United States last year — more that in all previous years combined. The EIS should take about a year, we are told. Maybe the railroads and their aging fleet of DOT-111’s can break their record this year — maybe not. Time will tell.

My turn to swear came last Monday night. If Imperium, Westway and the Port, along with an assist from the City of Hoquiam and the DOE have their way, your turn is a-coming. I promise.

Richard Pennant

Hoquiam City Council, Ward 2


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