Just say no to crude

We will be saved — again!

Today the people of Grays Harbor are promised riches by all the crude oil that will be arriving at our shores. Our current saviors are three crude oil terminals (Terminals 1, 2 and 3) that will be storing and offloading crude oil brought by rail to the Port from North Dakota. The oil is removed from North Dakota by fracking.

No matter that crude oil is equal to if not more dangerous than coal to our waterways. Why worry that our rail infrastructure is inadequate? The Washington State Spill Program Manager for the Department of Ecology says, “You’re dealing with a liquid that can move very quickly. It can get into the groundwater. It can get into the streams. It can get into the rivers. … I’m really concerned about this.” There are 100 stream and river crossings from Centralia to Hoquiam. Grays Harbor Estuary is considered difficult, if not impossible to contain oil spills. Of course, spills never happen, do they?

Each one of the trains carries 50,000 barrels of oil. Each unit train is a mile long. The crude is loaded on single hull cars and carried by rail along the same route the coal was going to take. Only this time there will be approximately 24 unit trains per week (2,880 cars) in addition to current rail traffic.

The crude oil will be stored in large tanks at each of the terminals. From there it will be loaded onto Panamax ships. These are the largest vessels that can enter our waterways. How will this impact other activities on the Harbor? What would a spill do to fish and wildlife and the economies that depend on them? What will happen to the other businesses at the Port and in the community? What is the cost/benefit analysis?

Where is the “trickle down” from the previous businesses that were supposed to save us? Where is the prosperity going? Each time some new project comes to town we’re told this is going to be it, folks. This is going to really turn things around. Tax subsidies are handed out, environmental reviews are short-circuited, and hiring union or local workers is ignored. Yet, when all is completed, we seem to be back where we started. Fewer jobs than promised. Always teetering on the highest unemployment in the state!

We really need jobs here. We need well-paying, sustainable jobs that provide a healthy economy and a stable environment for the people who live here and the natural resources we rely upon. We need jobs that will improve everyone’s standard of living and entice people to move to our communities. Is crude oil the answer? Why do we continue to place our bets — and our lives and livelihoods — on toxic boom and bust commodities that prevent us from moving into the 21st century?

Please plan to attend a public meeting sponsored by Citizens for a Clean Harbor at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 13, 6:30 at Hoquiam High School Commons. We will provide ample opportunity for questions and answers.

Linda Orgel