Saturday, April 12, 2014

Taking on Big Coal

The first battle against Big Coal's illegal clearing of 9.1 acres of forest that impacted 3.92 acres of wetlands and damaged a known archaeological site is set for hearing April 23rd at 1:35 p.m. at the County Courthouse Council Chambers.

It is David vs. Goliath "battling" (with words) before the Whatcom County Hearing Examiner.

The illegal clearing (in pictures) is shown below.
Carl Weimer took this picture of the clearing in July 2011 while walking his dog.

Here is a picture taken in April 2014 from approximately the same location as Carl's 2011 photo. Pacific International Terminals, Inc. has planted new trees to address their forest practice violation, but their planting scheme maintains a clear path to continue their geotechnical investigations for the coal port. 
The stakes in this appeal could be huge. If successful, the County would be required to enact a six-year development moratorium on the property proposed for the coal port, and suspend review of the application until the end of six years. The moratorium could be lifted only after a public hearing that demonstrates the violations are cured.

Big coal doesn't like the fact that their project might get suspended, or that their violations would be subject to public input. So, Pacific International Terminal's, Inc. have "lawyered" up against this citizen appeal. Their first attack on my appeal is to file a motion to dismiss, arguing that a citizen that lives in Bellingham does not have "standing" to file the appeal. 

The lawyers attempt to limit standing has never been raised in an appeal before the Whatcom County Hearing Examiner. In fact, Whatcom County's system for appealing zoning and critical area decisions only require you to be a "person". The coal port developers attempt at limiting appeals is just another way that they wish to exert undue influence on their illegal clearing.

If you wish to voice your opinion on Pacific International Terminal's attempt to dismiss this appeal, attend the hearing or send your comments. The Hearing Examiner required a legal notice to be published that said the hearing is an "open record" and allows you to "appear at hearing."  You can also mail your comments to the Hearing Examiner at 311 Grand Avenue, Bellingham, WA 98225 before April 23rd.

For those of you that enjoy reading legal arguments, here are the two briefs I submitted:


  1. David, could you post the links to the code sections governing the procedures at issue?

  2. Also, is it possible to submit comments by email?

  3. Seems like there ought to be some logs lying around if they cut this swath. Or maybe they marketed the timber? They should produce their receipts and their Forest Practices permit or endure the same 6 year moratorium on conversion that county farmers have for far less egregious violations.

  4. Will be there with Sonny and anyone else that is free.
    It has bothered me since they cleared. Thanks for taking this on David and if living on the Spur is ever needed for standing, let me know. I see the railroad working on the Spur already (corner of Portal and Spur).

  5. Send written comments to the HE to his clerk, Carol Magner at