Let’s put oil-by-rail plan under closer scrutiny

The recent letters to The Daily World and The Vidette by Mike Casberg and Steve Heppe express legitimate concerns about the crude-by-rail projects. There were valid points raised in both letters. To those I wish to add my own following comments.

Gov. Jay Inslee, in the May 4, 2013 Daily World, reveals a “cool head” approach to oil port development: Port of Grays Harbor commissioners need to adhere to the governor’s “patience” comment. The scope of the environmental review is not inclusive enough to pass muster … i.e. all communities and highway crossings along the crude-by-rail route will be vulnerable to the many, many trains predicted to bring oil to Aberdeen-Hoquiam. Now is not the time to look at Grays Harbor only. People first, not the corporations.

The economic and personal losses are predictable. An independent firm, not in bed with the entities presently involved, should be contracted by the Port of Grays Harbor to prepare a beginning-to-end survey that proves that economic trade-offs are not the only data studied. Local business and personal losses must be included in order for the public to understand the true situation being proposed.

Port Commissioners publish your reviews: the citizens impacted by your political attitudes — the citizens want to know here you stand on issues. For instance

• How is it planned to “mitigate” business and personal losses due to railroad crossing blockages: daily, weekly, monthly and annually?

• Does the United States Postal Service have any idea that mail deliveries will be impacted?

• Schools: Grays Harbor College and school bus routes will be impacted.

The Port Commissioners, et al, continually try to put a good face on the subject, crude-by-rail, while actually I see little cause for optimism. Denial and wishful thinking prevent us from adequately preparing for safety.

The public must demand that Environmental Impact Assessments include assessing the true impact on people’s lives and fortunes. I do not have faith that the welfare of the ecosystem and the lives of people all along the full route of the oil trains is being nurtured.

I challenge the elected officials at all levels of government to review and comment on the crude-by-rail project as it affects all communities from the oil fields in Canada and the Dakotas to Aberdeen.

John Tennefoss