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Letters to the Editor, Week of Dec. 13, 2023

Statue twins, recreation and, of course, metal shredding

Editor,

The Dirty Dan statue in Fairhaven isn’t the only one of its kind. Dan has a twin in Loveland, Colorado, in a park called the Benson Sculpture Garden where it is known as “Resting on a Rough Sawn Bench.”

The photo and description on the garden’s website make no mention of Dirty Dan or the existence of his double in Bellingham.

Dick Conoboy

Bellingham

Editor,

The metal shredder opinion article (CDN, Dec. 4, 2023) mentioned there is an unfortunate amount of misinformation circulating and it’s time to get the record straight. Instead, the PR representative simply misinformed the public. Shipments reducing carbon emissions? Not when considering bunker fuel. Only considering the materials being responsible to Bellingham? It dehumanizes the impacts.

Putting a shredder near homes and the Bellingham Bay is not responsible. When metal is shredded, it lets off extreme heat which volatilizes any non-metal materials and leftover fluids that are mixed with the metal, leaving dangerous volatile organic compounds emissions and particulate matter that pollute our air and our water.

Furthermore, it is misleading to state that ABC is part of Bellingham’s tradition of a working waterfront when our working waterfront got rid of its pulp mill. We learned that polluting our bay is not up for grabs as we are moving to the 21st century, plus ABC Recycling has already violated pollution limits.

Yes, we want union-paying jobs, yet why are they using the jobs argument versus the environment? Sound familiar? It’s misleading to say we asked for this with a robust public process in creating our waterfront district sub-area plan when leaving out the list of impacts including truck traffic, the air pollution from this truck traffic, and air and water pollution from the shredder plant.

This isn’t an investment in Bellingham. No more misleading the public. We dealt with misleading information from the proposed coal export facility. Don’t try to fool us; we know what’s up.

Jill MacIntyre Witt

Bellingham

 

Editor,

The City of Bellingham Parks and Recreation provides excellent oversight for the management of one of our city’s greatest assets.

One of two bridges crossing Squalicum Creek near the Meridian entrance had a tree fall on it on May 22, 2022. The north bridge has been closed to foot and bike traffic since that time. In a public meeting on Dec. 5, Bellingham Parks and Recreation explained its plans to remove the bridge, suggesting that there is no plan for replacement of the damaged north bridge. Without the bridge, people shortcut through the creek which can be environmentally damaging and/or dangerous.

Two bridges spread the foot and bike traffic over a greater area, allowing northern access to the picnic shelter, direct access to the trails and a loop around to the south bridge. Views of the Squalicum Creek water flow from the north bridge are uniquely different from that of the south bridge. Replacing the north bridge without delay ensures that there will be bridge access across the creek when the south bridge fails.

We’d like to see Bellingham Parks and Recreation present a feasibility proposal. Many people who use this park regularly belong to walking, running, pickleball and frisbee golf clubs that could provide volunteer help to offset some of the costs.

Elaine Cress and members of Whatcom Walking Friends

Editor,

On Dec. 5, owners and management from ABC Metal Recyclers held a meeting in Bellingham to make a case for a proposed metal shredding operation on Marine Drive. One of the first statements made to justify the choice of Bellingham was that this was “a strategic location.” That pushed a lot of buttons. Strategic for who?

ABC is the largest metal recycling company in western Canada and its goal is to expand into the U.S. When asked at the meeting why they don’t build a shredder in Canada, the answer was vague. Likely there would be a lot more competition to access commercial shipping piers in lower British Columbia, which means more expensive to ship metal overseas.

Once they were given the green light by the Port of Bellingham to load ships here, they purchased property on Marine Drive with the intention of building a metal shredder here, rather than in Canada.

If the port is determined to bring this kind of industry into our county, why not at Cherry Point? Welcoming a metal shredding plant into our neighborhoods is a much bigger ask than using a location that is already designed for exactly this kind of industry. ABC bought land on Marine Drive on pure speculation before any permits were granted, before any SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) studies were completed. If instead, they lease land at Cherry Point, their operation would still be profitable.

What would make our community want to embrace this very impactful, environmentally questionable, metal shredding plant near Birchwood, Alderwood and Marine Drive neighborhoods? ABC must consider other locations for this large-scale operation, away from cities, neighborhoods and established high-traffic areas.

Margen Riley

Bellingham

Editor,

Recently, I was shifting through some old boxes of clippings in my storage room, and I came across a now-startling brochure prepared by the Port and City of Bellingham entitled “Bellingham’s New Waterfront.” This was a vision for 2026. Though undated, I suspect this was printed between 2004 and 2007. I recall thinking at the time: “Yes! Finally, a way to transform the Georgia Pacific brownfield into a district that will attract visitors, residents and businesses alike. The toxic lignin pond becomes a downtown marina adjacent to Whatcom Waterway. The Waterway has reclaimed beaches and citizen docks with visitor moorage on both sides with broad promenades, and even a pedestrian bridge. An amphitheater! New family-wage jobs! National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessels! Western Washington University programs!”

Sadly, what we got was boulder shipping, pump tracks, food trucks, a beer garden, piles of contaminated soil from the condo sites (its removal a year overdue according to the Department of Ecology), stalled condo construction (where there was to be reclaimed near-shore habitat, trails, beaches, promenades, visitor moorage and kayaking), and … oh yeah, piles of scrap metal which may violate various permitting and environmental stormwater regulations. Vision 2026?

Let’s take the fighting energy that defeated the coal port plans and use it to scuttle the metal shredder. Then, instead of merely reacting to the latest assault on our community, channel efforts to clarify the waterfront and have a no-compromise policy of getting what our community deserves. 

Steve Bailey

Bellingham

Editor,

I was pretty excited to read about why Mt. Baker Ski Area passes are so much more expensive than other passes when there are such few amenities. On reading the article (CDN, Nov. 21, 2023), I was disappointed to learn no new information. Writer Jason D. Martin didn’t shed light on why Mount Baker season passes cost so much more than others, and why we don’t really get a price break on a pass over buying day passes. Even with the returning pass holder discount, we still have to ski for approximately 13 days to “break-even” on our pass. 

This is really “hail corporate” of me, and, yeah, Vail Corp. and Alterra are problematic, but we were priced out of Baker passes this year and went with the Epic Pass Stevens Select pass, where we got two adult passes for less than one Baker pass. Of course, the drive is longer, but we only need to ski six days to “break even,” which we can bang out over a few weekends. Stevens also has night skiing, feels like a resort and actually has groomed runs.

I learned to ski at Mount Baker and really love that hill, but its season pass prices truly are insane. I understand that Vail Corp. has economies of scale working in its favor, but there isn’t really a planet where a Baker season pass price is worth it anymore. Skiing is already very elitist and exclusive and a season pass should make the sport more accessible rather than pricing people out. 

Amber Pouley

Bellingham

Editor,

The recent letter by F. Fitzgerald (CDN, Dec. 6, 2023) criticizing the city’s selection of “innovative” sludge treatment technologies was encouraging.

Municipal services, such as waste treatment, are critical services. These require robust and time-proven technology. The City of Bellingham, embracing risky “innovative” technologies is not “leadership,” as claimed by the city’s representative.

The city continues to flounder after years of effort and spending significant taxpayer dollars. In 2012, the early screening resulted in the selection of anaerobic digestion. Fluidized bed incineration was eliminated from consideration. It didn’t fit someone’s interpretation of the Climate Action Plan.

Later, deficiencies in the anaerobic digestion process were identified. Nevertheless, the city continued to justify anaerobic digestion, despite critical technology issues had not been resolved. The interim reports made one dizzy from the spin.

The anaerobic digestion process selection was political, justified by leadership’s obsession to satisfy unspecified metrics in the Climate Action Plan. The result was a not ready-for prime-time technology. It was actually approved by the city council, for gosh sakes!

The mayor terminated it for cost reasons. Trying to adhere to the spirit of the Climate Action Plan is admirable, but there are clear technological limits to systems that are reliable and meet regulatory standards.

The hope is that, like Mr. Fitzgerald, other responsible citizens will come forward to continue to challenge the current approach to identify a robust replacement technology for the sludge treatment system.

Let’s hope the new mayor will consider revisiting the issue and steer the technology search back to an evaluation of reliable alternatives and not pie-in-the-sky solutions.

Bob Morton

Bellingham

Editor,

How very apt to see a headline about the “raucous” crowd railing against ABC Recycling’s metal shredder (CDN, Dec. 5, 2023), just above “Whatcom industrial site owners fined nearly $1M for dangerous waste violations: Department of Ecology fine comes in wake of multi-million dollar EPA cleanups” (CDN, Dec. 6, 2023). 

If we could time-travel back to when that fabulously expensive and poisonous site was first proposed, we’d hear PR guys from Treoil Industrial making the same empty promises that ABC made: It’ll be perfectly safe, we won’t pollute, we’ll follow all the laws, we’ll be good neighbors. Sure they will …

Deborah Wessell

Bellingham

Editor,

The list of countries torn apart by internal and external conflict dominates our news. The Ukrainian conflict has slid from the headlines to be replaced by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The “old” ongoing news of the expulsion of Afghanis from Pakistan, the slaughter in Sudan, and the domination of northern Nigeria by Boka Haram receive no attention. 

Don’t forget the displacement of communities this year by earthquakes destroying Middle Eastern communities in Turkey and Morocco, as well as Afghanistan, Nepal, Ecuador and the Philippines.

Yes, these countries receive emergency aid, but unfortunately, they need more. Doctors without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres), Oxfam, Red Cross are among the foremost worldwide charities serving communities in distress. 

We all are upset by the current front-page news, and we can each help.

As we celebrate this season, remember it is a season to give to the less fortunate.

Please give, and give generously.

Carole Jacobson

Bellingham

Editor,

Using what manner of denial and delusion can any Republican supporting the Trump presidency claim to be a person of high moral integrity? 

What sort of cognitive dissonance can explain the belief many conservatives have that somehow the obviously troubling lapses of judgment and violations of law by Hunter Biden have anything to do with the Biden presidency?

Hunter Biden’s alleged crimes, including his drug addiction struggles, his tax issues and even his alleged violations of gun laws, took place long before his father became president and many even occurred before Joe Biden became Obama’s vice president. And yet delusional MAGAteers act as if this all is just now occurring and coming to light.

If Mike Johnson is the conservatives’ idea of a man of high moral, religious and political principles, one has to wonder what in the world these folks have been using to spike their communion punch.

Daily, Johnson shows himself to be as shallow and pure as the dirtiest mud puddle anywhere. And after years of hearing how the rioters on Jan. 6 were really Antifa in Proud Boy drag, the assertion by one of the highest officers in our government that videotapes of rioters need to be blurred to protect innocents is so antithetical to the rule of law or common sense as to make one question just how corrupted has the Republican view of the rule of law become, and just how absolutely insane are the Grand Old Partiers.

Michael Waite

Sedro-Woolley 

Editor,

Recently House Speaker Mike Johnson said, “One of the primary purposes of the law in civil government is to restrain evil … We have to acknowledge collectively that man is inherently evil and needs to be restrained,” and CNN had a cow! He must be a theocrat or a fascist!

The reason that communism, Nazism and fascism led to so much murder was that they had a far too positive view of human nature, so they grew their governments and centralized their power with no fear. The Marxists blamed capitalism, the Nazis blamed “inferior races” and the fascists blamed too much individualism for their problems rather than human selfishness and sin.

We have three separate branches of government and various checks and balances. Our founders believed in the Judeo/Christian concept that “man is inherently evil,” so they didn’t want too much centralized power. That’s why the Catholic Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

“Carlyle said that men were mostly fools. Christianity, with a surer and more reverent realism, says that they are all fools.” — G.K. Chesterton.

James Madison once remarked, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.”

Allen Peterson

Bellingham

Letters to the Editor are published online Wednesdays; a selection is published in print Fridays. Send to letters@cascadiadaily.com by 10 a.m. Tuesdays. Rules: Maximum 250 words, be civil, have a point and make it clearly. Preference is given to letters about local subjects. CDN reserves the right to reject letters or edit for length, clarity, grammar and style, or removal of personal attacks or offensive content. Letters must include an address/phone number to verify the writer’s identity (not for publication).

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