Port Commissioner Connie Bacon proposed a future precedent for considering projects that revolve around natural resources or fossil fuels: The port would host at least three public meetings, and before any project advances, the public would be privy to timelines, financial impacts, and details about safety and facility operations.
August 16, 2016 – “In Tacoma, Washington, The People Attempt to Exercise Their Ballot Initiative Rights to Protect Their Water & Are Blocked by the Courts”
Paul Cienfuegos’ August 16th, 2016 Commentary on KBOO Evening News. Posted on Community Rights PDX.
Today I’m going to read some excerpts from a recent news story titled, “What happens in Tacoma when the people exercise their inalienable right to protect their water, and their democratic right to initiative?” The short answer to that question is – the corporate state strips those voting rights from The People. Here’s the story….
The weather is perfect for petitioning – we love the clouds and cool temperatures. Our June 15th deadline is approaching fast and we still need signatures on both petitions. We are getting close but we have to keep pushing as last week we did not hit our weekly goal – so this week we have to make those signatures up. We need 350 signatures on the green sheet and 500 signatures on the blue one this week. Now is the time to help make a difference and be part of a group of concerned citizens that want to protect our water now and for the future.
I grew up learning to take care of the property my parents owned. I helped to maintain the creek flowing on the boundary of our property on its way to Grays Harbor Bay. I dragged branches and debris out of the creek so that our property would not be flooded. So that set the stage for everything else I would choose to do regarding water. I have read extensively about land and water reclamation and conservation around our country. I have spent a lot of time on and around Commencement Bay. So when I heard the words, “largest methanol plant in the world”, I knew it was the wrong thing for Commencement Bay, and I knew I had to get involved in helping to stop it. I had the knowledge and experience that made me confident to speak up.
When I learned about “Save Tacoma Water”, I was grateful to be able to join a group where I could contribute. This particular set of circumstances regarding NW Innovation Works – the application process, the petition process, and the seeming permissive attitude of our public officials toward NWIW – might set a standard that other companies would follow. It was all going to have a negative effect on Pierce County residents regarding taxes, utility fees, and air and water pollution. Commencement Bay is not the largest bay in the world, and Puget Sound is not the largest inland sea in the world. It narrows considerably on its route toward the south end of the Sound. The enormous container ships that were being planned would overwhelm all other shipping.
Although NWIW had asked for a larger quantity of fresh water per day, Tacoma’s public officials got the company to come down to 10.4 million gallons per day. They declined to consider using recycled water. There was a hint that after the permitting and construction process was over, the company would lobby to get more fresh water per day. Now, American Rivers, a conservation organization, has identified the Green River as “at risk”, and developing temperatures too warm for safety of animal and plant life in its waters. Measures will have to be taken to deal with this problem. The proposed methanol plant would cause warming.
We need to protect our precious fresh water source for the use of businesses, residents, and recreation. And we need to preserve it for future generations. In one way, this is a difficult decision to make, because it will involve hard work in planning, communication among groups, and cooperation. But in another way, it is an easy decision to make. Puget Sound is a very beautiful and precious water resource for our region. Clear, clean water is a gift to us given by us after the cleanup of Asarco, which we have all participated in. It is our duty to keep it that way. I am in for the long run.
I signed with Tacoma Schools 49 years ago to come and work in one of the finest elementary counseling programs in the state. I was aghast when I first visited the community. Back then, the city was dismal, the politics were corrupt and the port smelled. To be honest, I was depressed thinking “What have I done?”
Slowly over time, with new leadership and public commitment, Tacoma has been on a trajectory of renewal. We have invested millions of tax payer’s dollars in cleaning up our city and port. Our city has become beautiful and healthier.
Coming to understand the toxic air pollution effects of the proposed methanol plant and experiencing the effects of global warming last year with our drought, I knew that I had to do something to help protect our beautiful city, Port, and pristine water supply. Knowing that clean water will be the global issue of this century and knowing that Tacoma’s water supply will be effected by global warming, it was a ‘no brainer.’ Save Tacoma Water provided an avenue to make a meaningful contribution. I want to live in a healthy and clean city that has the needed resources for its people.
Ten years ago I moved to Tacoma against my will. To my mind it was a foul smelling, heavy industry, toxic blight on this coast. Since that time I have come to love the new flourishing Tacoma. I love its livable size, sense of community, diversity, robust arts scene, fine museums, historical flavor, great events, Commencement Bay and the Rainiers.
When I learned of the nightmare of the proposed methanol refinery looming over this city, I felt angry, scared, and powerless. I was alarmed that in addition to threatening serious toxins, explosion and fire, it projected using (without any citizen input) fourteen million gallons per day of our fresh water.
In response, the Save Tacoma Water organization has developed Amendment 5 and Initiative 6 which, with enough petition signatures, will appear on the November ballot. We Tacoma citizens will then have the opportunity to vote ourselves into a position of power concerning use of our diminishing water supply, as well as the type of industry entering the city.
I’m grateful to the originators of this movement and to each voter who signs the petitions. It’s a true pleasure to volunteer in support of Save Tacoma Water.
Why I choose to volunteer for the Save Tacoma Water can be summed up in three words, past, present and future.
Past: My mother’s parents and sisters emigrated from Pisa, Italy to Tacoma. They did not know how to speak, read or write English when they arrived. My mother was the first person born on American soil in her family. She spoke, read and wrote Italian as her first language and acted as translator for her parents her entire life. I feel immense gratitude for all of the immigrates that eventually found their way to Tacoma in order to build a city out of dirt and mud. These hardworking individuals that crossed oceans and continents suffered difficulties that we cannot envisage today. I know these stories personally. It is my responsibility to honor their sacrifice and hardships by continuing to enhance our standard of living.
Present: I am volunteering for the present generation that seems to be more addicted to social media than concerned for their resources. The majority of them appear to be brainwashed by the media. When I ask the generations of X,Y and millennials to sign the petitions, they often say “not now” as they are running into the store to shop and spend money, and I think to myself “if not now, when?”
Future: I volunteer for the security of the next generation that will be forced to live in an environment that has an unforeseeable future and standard of living. It is the least that I can do to lend them a helping hand that will secure that they can live and prosper in the city that we will be leaving behind.
Shout out to our volunteers! We have new petition sheets with a new look. Why? Well, we needed to print more. Plus, it will help us in our signature collecting efforts for the next month and they will prepare voters for a yes vote in November.
Volunteers will no longer have to respond to the question, “We stopped the methanol refinery, why do we need these petitions?”
The citizens of Tacoma and all the rest of the loud voices from around the region can all take a bow for getting Northwest Innovation Works to cancel the project, but remember this quote from the Tacoma News Tribune:
“Right now, we no longer have a project in Tacoma,” Godley said by phone.