|Clearing compared to project plan|
Bob Watters has an Op Ed piece in today’s Herald. I won’t insult Mr. Watters by suggesting that he “wrote” the Op Ed piece. His spinmeisters undoubtedly are responsible for that.
The Op Ed is an effort to downplay the significance of SSA's $1.6 million settlement with RE Sources, which sued Pacific International Terminals (owner of SSA Marin) over its illegal land clearing and road building on the site of the proposed Gateway Pacific coal terminal at Cherry Point.
Those who followed Get Whatcom Planning’s coverage of this issue ought to be inoculated against the nonsense in that Op Ed. In case you missed our coverage, you can read it here (“New Roads for Whatcom County: Gateway Pacific Bulldozes Ahead”) , and here (“The Wrong Place at the WrongTime”), and here (“Road to Nowhere”), and here (“Heedless Destruction”), and here (“How Would That Six-Year Moratorium Work?”), and here (“The Six-Year MoratoriumAgain: What Is ‘The Law’?”), and here (“Thinkin’ Bout a Moratorium”) , and here (“Piecemealing”).
I wrote about this so often because I was outraged. Outraged at the blatant violation of federal, state, and local law and SSA’s brazen efforts to pretend it was no big deal.
From the moment I saw the overlay of road-building compared to what was permitted on the site, there was no question in my mind that this could possibly be a “mistake.”
|Clearing compared to geotechnical well permit|
A “mistake” is when your contractors are off by a few feet. A “mistake” is when communications get garbled and you start a week before you’re authorized. A “mistake” is when you drill a few extra holes.
Clearing roads in a pattern that has absolutely nothing to do with any permitted activity is no “mistake.”
And that’s what the litigation revealed.
As RE Sources’ press release on the settlement agreement explained, one of the leading national experts on large-scale construction project management, Philip S. Lanterman, conducted an in-depth analysis of SSA’s “mistake.” He concluded:
“In my opinion, it is probable that [SSA-owned] PIT intentionally chose to proceed with the geotechnical investigation without necessary permits to obtain the expected economic benefit of securing the geotechnical information early in the project timeline, and PIT has actually received such benefit.. . .
PIT’s efforts to ensure legal compliance of the geotechnical investigation were so far below the standard of care that, in my opinion, they evidence extreme recklessness as to legal compliance or, more likely, an intentional violation of the law.”
In other words, SSA took a calculated risk. It could break our laws and nobody would find out – or, if they did, so what. Nobody would do anything about it.
And if it weren’t for RE Sources, that would have been true.
Is that the kind of business we want in our community? Is that the kind of operator that we can trust to operate North America’s largest coal terminal in our back yard?