Community

Carl and Crina

Honoring our environmental heroes

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

We need heroes and champions.

Last week, the Washington State Dept. of Ecology closed the public record on an emergency response plan for the 64-year-old Puget Sound Pipeline—a segment of the Trans Mountain Pipeline recently bought by the federal government of Canada from Kinder Morgan. More than 14,000 comments raised alarms about this aging infrastructure that will ship increased volumes of tar sands oil through Whatcom and Skagit counties, and fears the spill response plan is inadequate for heavy oil like tar sands.

In operation since 1954, the Puget Sound Pipeline crosses the Nooksack River, Sumas River, Samish River, Whatcom Creek, and the Swinomish Channel and carries about 30 percent of all crude oil shipped into Washington state. The pipeline connects the four refineries in Whatcom and Skagit counties to the larger Trans Mountain Pipeline system that connects British Columbia and Washington state with the tar sands in Northern Alberta.

A highly controversial proposal to triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain Pipeline is currently under consideration in Canada. If built, the expanded Trans Mountain Pipeline would result in nearly a sevenfold increase in tar sands tanker traffic—37 additional tankers and barges every month—transporting crude oil through the Salish Sea in waters shared by Washington and British Columbia.

Who better to speak to the issues of pipeline safety than Carl Weimer, former member of Whatcom County Council and executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, the only national non-profit organization that focuses on pipeline safety from a public interest view?

And who better to speak to the activism and organization that may be required in response to this pipeline expansion than Crina Hoyer, until recently the executive director at RE Sources at a critical moment when a massive coal export pier was proposed at Cherry Point?

What Carl started, Crina brought into full bloom and full circle.

Weimer helped found and led the environmental advocacy group RE Sources in its formative years. Hoyer took the helm at a critical juncture, when the role and mission of the organization took a leadership role to bring public awareness to the Gateway Pacific coal export proposal.

In the ’70s and early ’80s Carl’s work led him into the wilds, giving him pause to discern between human “wants” versus human “needs” and solidifying a core belief in the wonders of nature. Since then, he’s held fast to his beliefs while taking a scientific approach and a steadfast dedication to understanding and helping resolve important environmental issues facing our region.

Carl is a natural problem-solver. When he realized how much waste could be diverted from the Whatcom County landfill to be reused, he opened the RE Store. When a pipeline explosion ripped through Whatcom Falls Park in 1999, he stepped up to ensure pipeline safety was addressed. When our community needed wise elected leadership, he pursued a seat on the Whatcom County Council.

He has also served as a member of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Technical Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Standards Committee, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association’s External Advisory Panel, and the governor appointed Washington Citizen Committee on Pipeline Safety. 

Carl has been called upon to testify to the U.S. House and Senate multiple times (ask him about where he got his suit!), as a witness by the National Transportation Safety Board, and was honored in 2015 as a Champion of Change by the White House for his pipeline safety efforts. He has organized 11 national pipeline safety conferences, pushed for stronger pipeline safety legislation on the national and state level, runs the national Safe Pipelines and LNG Safety mailing lists that serve as an independent source of pipeline safety information for news media, local government and citizens around the country. 

His love of the outdoors led to an unusual discovery in 2011—on a hike with his dog he stumbled across an illegal land clearing across a wetlands and ancient tribal site intended as as initial survey of the Gateway Pacific project. And through that discovery, a community movement became galvanized.

Like Carl, Crina developed a love for the natural world as she grew up as a free-spirit on Whidbey Island, where she spent time jumping off wharves, mucking around mudflats, and exploring forested uplands. After an idyllic Pacific Northwest childhood, she decided to pursue a degree at Huxley College.

Shortly after graduating, Crina began her 20-year career at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities as a classroom educator—teaching about waste reduction, air quality, climate change and marine water quality. She later managed these education programs and developed a field-based intertidal project for high schoolers. In 2005, she officially became RE Sources Program Director and in that position was influential in expanding the scope of RE Sources Clean Water Program, launching the Clean Energy Program, and multiplying programmatic impacts by enlisting the help of interns, work study students and AmeriCorps volunteers. 

Sstepping into the leadership role at RE Sources in 2012, Crina helped build the organization required to respond to the staggering threat posed by the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal. If built, it would have been the nation’s largest coal export facility, certain to devastate salmon and orca populations, individual livelihoods, and the culture and traditions of indigenous Salish Sea peoples. 

The advocacy group has mentored and incubated a stunning constellation of organizers and local experts in clean and renewable energy, many of whom have gone on to found their own organizations and efforts.

“Under Crina’s leadership, RE Sources raised substantial dollars, hired new staff, partnered with key organizations across the region, cut its teeth on grassroots organizing, and helped build one of the largest environmental movements in our region’s history,” board member Charlie Maliszewski wrote.

“If a leader’s significance to society is to be measured according to lives touched, many reading this have knowingly or unknowingly been impacted by Crina’s coaching, encouragement and wisdom. The seeds she planted in each individual relationship will continue to cultivate great potential, produce invaluable fruit, and reseed to new ground. The long list of leaders she helped enrich and inspire, watched blossom, then said goodbye to have embarked on careers to create a thriving, sustainable future for us all. I hear time and time again how much others have been impacted by her unique leadership qualities from those within the organization or community leaders who’ve partnered with RE Sources.”

We need heroes like these. And we need them now as much as ever.

Carl Weimer and Crina Hoyer will be honored at the 15th Annual Environmental Heroes Banquet on Thurs. Sept. 13.

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