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Letters for the week of February 14, 2018

Pebble mine

As a commercial fisher I appreciate the Cascadia Weekly’s regular coverage of fisheries and aquaculture issues affecting Puget Sound. I would like to see your publication turn its journalistic focus to the most pressing threat to wild salmon of our times—the ongoing efforts of the Canadian Northern Dynasty Minerals to develop a massive pit mine at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed in Southwest Alaska where the world’s largest wild salmon run spawns.
Bristol Bay is important to Western Washington. The commercial salmon fishery in Bristol Bay generates $1.5 billion each year and employs over 14,000 people. Many of those employed are from Western Washington, and the connections are visible in the high number of Washingtonians who own Bristol Bay permits and fishing vessels, work as deckhands, processors, technicians and mechanics, and the prominence of Washington-based seafood companies like Trident Seafoods. Whatcom and Skagit counties are home to many boatbuilders and machinists that supply Bristol Bay with its fleet. The history, culture, and economy of Western Washington are deeply connected to Alaskan fisheries and Bristol Bay in particular.
The Pebble Mine project is the single greatest threat to Bristol Bay’s watershed and the 50-plus million salmon that sustainably return to it each summer. The proposed gold, copper, and molybdenum mine site sits at the headwaters of two of Bristol Bay’s largest river systems and could become North America’s largest open pit mine requiring 48.6 square kilometers of tailings ponds holding 6.6 billion metric tons of mine waste in a seismically active area. Similar pit mines with tailings dams have failed at alarmingly high rates at other sites around the world, including Mt. Polley, B.C., where a 4 square kilometer tailings pond spilled its contents in 2014.
In 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency invoked the powers of the Clean Water Act to preemptively deny permitting for the Pebble Mine. Fast forward to May 1st, 2017, however, when our current EPA head, Scott Pruitt, had brunch with the CEO of the Pebble Limited Partnership, a subsidiary of Northern Dynasty Minerals, and on the very same day reversed the EPA’s position and gave a green light to the permitting process. In December 2017, the Pebble Limited Partnership submitted its permitting proposal with the US Army Corps of Engineers. At some point there will be a period for public comment, but until then the permitting process is opaque to the public.
Cascadia Weekly is well-poised to research the Pebble Mine issue and inform the public in Western Washington. There is surprisingly little media coverage of this important issue and obtaining any information about the ongoing permitting process is especially difficult for normal concerned citizens.
I am sure that many of your readers would appreciate seeing some original content about Pebble Mine and Bristol Bay and ongoing updates on the permitting process. This is an issue of great importance to Washingtonians and anybody who cares about wild salmon.

—Cole Hansen, Bellingham

Wild ideas

I feel compelled to speak for the wild things in Bellingham. The owl, hawk, deer and hummingbird have shown up as a reminder of how important the little wild areas are to our city. They are habitat for our animal and plant neighbors.
Humans need our wild kin and wild spaces in order to be sane. Urban habitat is essential.
As our city grows, we must gain rapid wisdom about how to protect and create wild habitat. We need to consider laws that slow development to take this into account. Regulations could be put in place against taking the larger trees, there can be economic incentives to build with natural areas rather than bulldozing them wholesale before construction.
We could regulate ADUs and any new development by including mitigations of creating new habitat; rooftop gardens, water habitat features, replacing lawns with diverse polycultures, vertical gardening, creating backyard habitats, etc. We can use more food producing and native plants in our public landscaping. We can plan wildlife corridors and nesting places. We must protect our wild areas, our creeks and wetlands, expand our parks, and educate and regulate ourselves.
We have too much beauty and wildlife to lose!

—Terri Wilde, Bellingham

Practice what you eat

I have for years enjoyed your publication. Your progressive political and social commentary, both national and local. Your informative listings of local events, entertainment, gatherings, Advice Goddess, etc. But I think it’s well overdue time you approach your cooking recipes with same progressive approach as the rest of your print.
Week after week, I see recipes with chicken or beef or pork and dairy. Staples of the American diet, no doubt. And also (with overwhelming honest research) the ingredients responsible for the disease and obesity that has engulfed our nation.
These industries—beef, dairy, poultry—are some of the most socially/politically unethical and corrupt industries in the country.
Not only do they “buy” research to contradict the truth about the nutritional dangers of their products, they are the single greatest source of greenhouse gases in the country. Let’s also not forget the destruction of our freshwater systems from runoff.
Sadly, as taxpayers we are already subsidizing the corporations buy paying industrial farmers to grow GMO crops to feed these animals right up until they are unethically slaughtered (certainly someone on your staff has seen the documentaries What the Health, Forks Over Knives, and many others) that expose the deep rooted corruption and the catastrophic effects on human health.
Please consider a progressive and ethical approach to the recipes you provide—whole food, plant-based dishes are not only the best thing for your body, it’s the best for our planet.

—Brad Johnson, Bellingham

A gathering storm

A constitutional crisis is looming. Get ready!
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is narrowing in on Donald Trump, Trump’s associates, and Trump’s family members. The tipping point will be if Trump further obstructs justice by firing Mueller or if Trump issues blanket pardons to protect (and silence) incriminating witnesses—or pardons himself.
Not since Nixon and Watergate has a president acted with the belief that he was above the law.
Nixon famously said that if the president did it, it wasn’t illegal. Shortly after that Nixon’s exit from office was prompted, not by legal proceedings, but by political pressure. Congress finally said, “Enough is enough.” And rather than face the prospect of impeachment, Nixon quit.
Should Trump carry out his own “Saturday night massacre,” then once again the solution will have to be a political one. Perhaps he can be convinced—like other disgraced politicians before him—to “spend more time with his family.” The only way for that to happen is if we the people demand nothing less.
It’s an old saying, but still true: “If the people will lead, the leaders will follow.”
It’s critically important that enough people lead. Citizen outrage—strongly expressed—can work.
Remember, the single most important objective for the majority of senators and representatives is not the furtherance of some inner core belief system, but rather, reelection, reelection, reelection.
Should Trump fire Mueller (or otherwise take away Mueller’s authority) mass demonstrations must happen. We have to tell Congress what we expect of it, so that members can contemplate their individual employment futures. The level of protest must be of historic proportions.
Trump’s warped ego may even thrive on the attention, but his ego is not our concern. Political pressure on Congress is.
To that end, there is currently work in progress by Moveon.org to coordinate an initial rapid response. “Nobody is above the law” rallies are being planned for cities across the country—including local ones in Bellingham, Mt. Vernon, and Anacortes. The website http://www.trumpisnotabovethelaw.org contains details on where and how to participate.
It’s not too late. It’s still your country. Be ready to take it back.

—Jim Trowbridge, Bellingham

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