Swinomish Tribe says “No More Oil Trains on Our Land”

A Native American tribe says too many trains, some of which carry volatile Bakken crude, are crossing its reservation and it’s suing the rail company to stop them.

The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community alleges BNSF Railway is violating an easement agreement made in 1991. The agreement set limits on the numbers and lengths of trains to cross this part of the Puget Sound area, and requires the rail company to inform the Tribe about the types of cargo.

Tribal chairman Brian Cladoosby says getting oil to a coastal refinery seems to have taken precedence over the original deal.

“The last letter we received from them indicated they weren’t going to abide by our agreement, and that they had to provide this [crude] to the Tesoro refinery,” says Cladoosby. “So, they basically indicated they were going to keep doing what they’re doing.”

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Seattle asks that BNSF stick to the original agreement: one train per day in each direction across the reservation, of no more than 25 cars in length, with the added specification of no Bakken crude on those trains.

Cladoosby says oil trains of more than 100 cars began crossing the reservation in 2012, and the Tribe has been asking about them since then. He says spills or worse aren’t risks the Tribe is willing to take.

“The trains run in real close proximity to our economic development area,” Cladoosby says. “Where we have our casino, our hotel, our bingo hall, our gas station, our RV park, our sewer treatment plant. So, it’s pretty close proximity.”

In a report last month, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission cited 14 instances in which hazardous materials leaked from BNSF rail cars in a recent four-month period, and the commission claims not all were reported promptly.

BNSF said it found inaccuracies in “more than 90 percent of those allegations.” The company has ordered 5,000 new and updated oil tank cars.

Members of the Swinomish Tribe, seen here at a tribal ceremony, are concerned that long trains of oil tank cars are crossing their reservation every week, a development the Tribe says violates its 1991 easement agreement with a rail company. Photo credit: Leslie Dierauf/U.S. Geological Survey.
Members of the Swinomish Tribe, seen here at a tribal ceremony, are concerned that long trains of oil tank cars are crossing their reservation every week, a development the Tribe says violates its 1991 easement agreement with a rail company. Photo credit: Leslie Dierauf/U.S. Geological Survey.

Aberdeen man robbed while walking home

Aberdeen Police are looking for tips to an armed robbery that took place outside an F street apartment earlier this week. Police Captain John Green tells KBKW on 10/13/14 at about 10:29 A.M. Aberdeen Police Officers responded to the report of a robbery that occurred the night before in the area of the 200 Block of N. F Street.

The victim told the investigating officer that on 10/12/14 at about 9:00 P.M. he was walking to his apartment. His apartment has a front door that leads into the alley. The victim said he saw a group of men standing in the area. He described them as three Native Americans and one black male.

The victim said as he passed the group the black male struck him in the chest and then displayed a knife. The victim said the black male struck him in the forehead with the tip of the knife. The victim reported that the black male also struck him numerous times while the other suspects held his arms back.

The victim said that the suspects took his wallet and cell phone.

The victim was helped to his apartment by another tenant.

The victim refused medical assistance.

The suspects were described as:

1. Black male, approximately 30 years of age, taller than 5,5, medium build with a full beard. LSW a black hoodie, black pants, white shoes.

2. Three Native American males about 20 years of age.

 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Aberdeen Police Department at 360-533-3180 or the tip line at 360-538-4450.

Tips sought in Aberdeen shooting that sends one to hospital, one to jail

Aberdeen police investigated a shooting this morning that sent one to the hospital, Police Captain John Green tells us at about 3 this morning they responded to reports of 4 to 5 people fighting at the Travel Lure Hotel on Wishkah Street. Arriving officers found evidence of a weapon being fired at the scene.
Green said a 37 year old Taholah male was located in a room and appeared to have gun shot wounds. The Aberdeen Fire Department treated and then transported the victim to the GH Community Hospital.

A Cosmopolis Officer that responded found a 17 year old Aberdeen man with a a concealed semi-automatic handgun, he was arrested on a bench warrant and taken to the Aberdeen Police Department. The handgun was seized.

Officers described three other men of interest as about 17 to 21 years of age, possibly Hispanic or Native American, described as wearing all black jackets, shorts, and baseball style hats.
They apparently fled right after the victim was shot, in a 1996 to 1999 Honda Accord with dark tinted windows and alloy wheels.

Aberdeen Detectives were called out and are continuing to process the scene, Wishkah Street in front of the Travel Lure was closed until about 7:00 A.M.

The investigation is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call the Aberdeen Police Department at 533-3180 or the tip line at 538-4450.

Senator Murray, Representative Kilmer Introduce Legislation to Protect Olympic Peninsula

(Washington, D.C.) – After extensive engagement and discussion with residents and local business leaders on the Olympic Peninsula, today Senator Patty Murray and Representative Derek Kilmer introduced the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2014 in the Senate and House of Representatives.  As part of an ongoing effort to preserve and grow jobs on the Olympic Peninsula, this legislation would protect some of the most environmentally sensitive parts of our region for future generations while protecting access to outdoor recreation opportunities and private landowners’ rights.

Map: Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act

Proposed Wild & Scenic Rivers Within the Wild Olympics Act of 2014

Proposed Wilderness Within the Wild Olympics Act of 2014

 

“The Olympic Peninsula’s wild spaces are among Washington state’s crown jewels, and the Wild Olympics proposal supports the foundation of conservation developed over generations,” said Senator Patty Murray.  “This plan is the result of several years of negotiation and compromise and I am thrilled to reintroduce today with Representative Kilmer, with whom I have done additional work prior to reintroduction.  This legislation is a step in the right direction to protect our most treasured places for our kids and grandkids, and I look forward to working with Representative Kilmer to pass this bill into law.”

“As someone who grew up in Port Angeles and saw first-hand the economic impact of the decline of the timber industry, I’ve always said that economic growth and environmental protection is not an either-or choice: we’ve got to do both. That’s why I brought industry and environmental leaders together to form a collaborative effort to increase harvest in our federal forests and protect the environment and it’s why I am introducing this bill today,” said Representative Kilmer. “This proposal is part of a practical, balanced economic development strategy to not only protect the natural beauty of our area for generations to come, but to help attract businesses to our region and help them stay, grow and invest for the future.”

 

This legislation would designate 126,554 acres of existing federal land as wilderness in the Olympic National Forest and designate 464 river miles across 19 rivers and some major tributaries on the Olympic Peninsula as Wild and Scenic Rivers. The wilderness designation permanently protects old growth and ancient forest habitat throughout the region. The Wild and Scenic Rivers designation would add federal recognition to the outstanding river systems on the Peninsula, protecting them as a source of clean drinking water and helping to keep the Puget Sound clean for generations to come and does not place restrictions on private property rights.

 

Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of  2014  builds off of legislation introduced in 2012 by Senator Murray and former Representative Norm Dicks that was a result of nearly three years of public engagement with residents, business owners, organizations, and Native American tribes. Based on additional public input, Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer made several changes to the legislation to address concerns and strengthen sections about private landowners’ rights.

Representative Derek Kilmer End of Year Report

Since taking office in January, Representative Derek Kilmer has been active both at home and in Washington, DC to work for his constituents. The following report presents Representative Kilmer’s accessibility in the region, a snapshot of benefits secured for his constituents, and a summary of his legislative efforts and accomplishments in his first year in office.

“While Congress itself continues to be something of a ‘fixer-upper,’ I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished for the people of the 6th District this year and I’m excited about how much more we can do in the coming year,” said Representative Derek Kilmer. “I’ll continue to work in a bipartisan way to get Congress back to work, to build on the recent budget agreement and move toward a long-term fiscal plan, to help our neighbors cut through red tape, and to continue producing results on the issues that matter the most to our region.”

 

Accessible to His Constituents

  • Rep. Kilmer has made it a priority to be accessible to his constituents so he can hear what’s on their minds and help them with their problems.  To that end, he has held or been accessible at the following events:
    • First and foremost, as a former economic developer, Rep. Kilmer has held 53 “Kilmer at Your Company” visits. During these events, he typically receives a tour or speaks briefly with the heads of businesses, and is accessible to employees so he can hear what’s on their minds.
    • 10 Public Town Halls
    • 4 Telephone Town Halls
    • 3 Open Office Hours
    • 2 Derek on Your Docks where he visited with commuters at the Kingston and Bainbridge island ferry docks
    • 4 Farmers Markets visits
    • 15 Rotary Meetings
    • 15 Chamber Meetings
    • Over 60 festivals, county fairs, and annual community events
    • Reached out to every mayor in the 6th District
    • Visited with leaders of all nine tribes located in the 6th District
    • Visited every major military command and facility

 

Helping Constituents Cut Through Red Tape

  • Representative Kilmer’s office has been active in helping over 500 constituents cut through red tape and resolve problems. To date, the total casework savings returned to constituents by Rep. Kilmer’s office is over half a million dollars.
    • Total Casework Savings for Constituents: $615,440.00
      • Medicare à $166,252
      • Department of Veterans Affairs/Defense Finance Accounting Service à $161,387
      • Social Security Administration à $105,928
      • Office of Personnel Management à $21,373
      • IRS à $160,500

 

Working in a Bipartisan Manner

  • In his first year in office, Rep. Kilmer has established himself as a Member of Congress who will work across the aisle to solve problems for Washington’s families. Rep. Kilmer is a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus and a part of the “Bipartisan Working Group” which meets every week to discuss how to move past partisanship to create progress.
  • Rep. Kilmer is a cosponsor of the Problems Solvers Government Reform Agenda which includes provisions such as No Budget No Pay, procurement reform, and other ideas to save taxpayers money.

 

Fighting Against Sequestration and Shutdown

  • On March 1, when the across-the-board cuts caused by sequestration went into place, Rep. Kilmer stood outside the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard gate to greet workers as they arrived.
  • When sequestration led to Department of Defense (DoD) furloughs, the Department wrongly furloughed employees at Working Capital Fund sites. Those workers are legally protected from furloughs and aren’t directly funded by taxpayer dollars. In response, Rep. Kilmer led a bipartisan letter and passed an amendment on the floor of the House to exempt those employees from future sequestration-related furloughs.
  • In response to concerns he heard from shipyard workers, Rep. Kilmer passed another amendment to ensure that civilian workers wouldn’t lose their security clearances just because they’ve been furloughed as a result of sequestration. Rep. Kilmer also introduced legislation to ease the financial hardship on those civilian employees who needed to make emergency withdrawals from their retirement accounts.
  • Thousands of civilian workers were furloughed because Congress failed to do its job and replace sequestration. Just as Congress came together to provide backpay to federal workers who lost pay as a result of the government shutdown, Rep. Kilmer introduced the bipartisan Federal Employee Pay Restoration Act to ensure that we continue to support our federal workforce.
  • When Congress could not reach a compromise to keep federal agencies funded Rep. Kilmer voluntarily gave up his own pay for the duration of the government shutdown.
  • When Congress finally passed a bipartisan budget, Rep. Kilmer voted to help avert a government shutdown, and halt most of the damaging across-the-board cuts that have hurt our region. Rep. Kilmer continues to call on Congress to put together a plan to deal with our long-term fiscal health and get folks back to work.

 

Supporting Economic Growth, Financial Stability and Investments in our Future

  • Given the strong role of the military in our region, Rep. Kilmer passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to reauthorize a program known as the IT Exchange Program to provide for workforce exchanges between the DoD and private employers.
  • As a member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Rep. Kilmer has been active in the effort to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act, a bill focused on strengthening national research policy and STEM education efforts to improve American competitiveness.  Specifically, he led an effort of the New Democratic Coalition to develop a list of strong legislative principles for the reauthorization effort.
  • Rep. Kilmer introduced the bipartisan Transfer Act to support early commercialization of research efforts and expand economic development from early research. The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee voted in December to move the legislation forward.
  • Recognizing the need to invest in our workforce, Rep. Kilmer introduced the Skills Investment Act, which would help workers save for education and job training through the establishment of worker-owned, employer-matched savings plans called Lifelong Learning Accounts.
  • Rep. Kilmer introduced the bipartisan American Savings Promotion Act, a bill to make it easier for financial institutions to offer products that incentivize individuals to build their savings. This bill was recently featured on PBS Newshour.
  • As our military installations face encroachment challenges, Rep. Kilmer led a delegation letter to Gov. Inslee and successfully pushed for funding key investments to ensure the long-term viability of these national assets.
  • As Congress considers final passage of the Farm Bill, Rep. Kilmer is pushing for strong funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
  • Our communities are made stronger when loving families open their hearts and homes to needy children and become adoptive parents. Rep. Kilmer introduced the Adoption Tax Credit Tribal Parity Act, which would ensure that parents who adopt Native American children with special needs get the tax relief that Congress intended for them to have.

 

Preserving Natural Resources

  • Rep. Kilmer worked closely with Rep. Heck to create the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus devoted exclusively to promoting Puget Sound cleanup efforts.
  • Rep. Kilmer is working on legislation to help strengthen our ability to monitor ocean acidification to protect our natural resources and local economic engines.
  • Rep. Kilmer established a collaborative that will bring together a wide range of stakeholders looking to move past the timber wars of the past and instead focus on what steps we can take to promote forest health and support economic growth in our region.

 

Supporting Servicemembers, Veterans, and their Families

  • After hearing from servicemembers and veterans who have experienced discrimination, Rep. Kilmer introduced legislation that would prohibit discrimination against veterans and servicemembers seeking employment or housing opportunities.
  • Rep. Kilmer’s Veterans Advisory Group has kicked off several initiatives to ensure that those who have served get the resources they need.
  • Native American veterans face obstacles in receiving federal assistance to help fight homelessness. Rep. Kilmer introduced the Housing Native Heroes Act to ensure that the successful HUD-VASH voucher program can help reduce homelessness among our Native American veterans.

 

Protecting National Security

  • The threat of cyber attacks represents one of our nation’s largest national security challenges, but cybersecurity technologies are also an emerging industry within our region.  Rep. Kilmer is pursuing ways to connect local institutions of higher learning with federal agencies and the private sector to provide valuable on-the-job training in the cyber field.
  • Our intelligence and law enforcement officials must have the resources they need to keep us safe but there must also be clear and firm rules to guide their work so Americans’ civil liberties are protected.  Rep. Kilmer was active in the effort to pass the Cyber Intelligence Sharing & Protection Act.
  • Rep. Kilmer is working with his colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee to refine the way that the government spends taxpayer money, pursuing opportunities for procurement reform.
  • Rep. Kilmer used his position on the House Armed Services Committee to advocate for critical infrastructure investments at Naval Base Kitsap – Bangor and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.  These projects will help our service members and civilian employees execute their missions and help to ensure our installations remain strong into the future.

 

Investing in Local Infrastructure

  • Ports are essential engines of economic growth throughout our region. As the House considers final passage of the Water Resources Development Act, Rep. Kilmer is pushing to maintain provisions that support our small ports and harbors and help address the “donor port” status that creates competitiveness issues for the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle.
  • After reaching out to a number of stakeholders, Rep. Kilmer helped stand up an infrastructure working group focused on addressing the needs of the South Kitsap Industrial Area.
  • Communities throughout our region are today vulnerable due to the threat posed by a tsunami. Rep. Kilmer is working at both the state and federal level to enhance coastal resiliency.

Army Corps of Engineers to begin annual dredging of Grays Harbor

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Corps officials worked with state and Federal agencies and Native American Nations to minimize harm to the aquatic ecosystem. They prepared a Biological Evaluation in accordance with the Endangered Species Act and Environmental Assessment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. The officials assure full compliance with the acts prior to starting.

Potential dredging and disposal operations impacts are also avoided through implementation of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-designated timing restrictions.

In addition to the environmental concerns, Corps proposed dredging is confined to removal of recently deposited sediments within the previously dredged channel. By limiting the dredging width and depth, any possible submerged cultural resources are not affected.

QIN: Advising the new White House Council on Native American Affairs

According to President Sharp, the economic disaster of the last five and-a-half years has profoundly undermined many tribal businesses across the country, and the sequestration of federal funding resulting from the federal Budget Control Act will result in an economic disaster among many tribes, creating profound desperation in Indian Country in 2014 and 2015.

The White House Council should meet with each tribal government in the country. The purpose of these meetings would be to establish a dialogue with each tribal government to resolve the “disconnect and disparity between federal efforts to meet the needs of Indian Country and the actual on-the-ground needs.”

The Quinault government further urged formulation of federal agency policies based on “understanding current population characteristics, population growth data and the tribal economic environment.” President Sharp specifically urged the White House Council to share census and economic findings with each tribal government to ensure that tribal officials receive information to ensure their “free, prior and informed consent” to decisions that are made.

President Sharp specifically urged establishing funding levels on the basis of “qualified and quantified actual need” through a process of interagency cooperation, intergovernmental cooperation between tribal, state and federal governments, incentives to encourage public-private partnerships and expansion of tribal self-determination. The White House Council should document and assess “tribal government and community needs in terms of types of community needs quantified in terms of financial requirements for the next year and for the next three years,” said Sharp.

To strengthen the government-to-government relationship the Quinault statement to the White House Council called for the designation of representatives from the Department of State, Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce joined by President Obama’s Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs and Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs to enter into a dialogue with a Tribal Government Contact Group to discuss and negotiate a “framework for intergovernmental relations between tribal and federal governments.” The White House Council was also urged to recommend to President Obama the designation of a Special Counsel with the “authority of the President” to negotiate settlement of intergovernmental disputes between Indian nations and the United States government.

Clearly, my government welcomes the opportunity to offer concrete comments and recommendations to the White House Council on Native American Affairs as we enter another milestone in President Barack Obama’s commitment to strengthen the government-to-government relationship with Tribal Nations, said Sharp.

The new White House Council was established in a June 26, 2013 executive order by President Obama to improve coordination of federal programs and the use of resources available to tribal communities. It is chaired by the Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, and is comprised of the heads of numerous federal executive departments and agencies. The council conducted a nationwide conference call Tuesday to help determine its mission and future activities, intended to strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship and facilitate the efficient delivery of government services.

If this new White House Council follows the right path, gets out of Washington D.C., works with the tribal nations on a true government-to-government basis and follows through on the need to work with us to find true solutions to our economic crises, we can and will make progress toward a better tomorrow,” said Sharp.

Suspect Sought in Mason County Double Homicide

SHELTON, Wash. – Police are searching for a suspect in a double homicide investigation in Mason county after two bodies were found at a Shelton home yesterday morning.

Mason County Coroner Wes Stockwell has identified the bodies as 19 year old Tyler W. Drake, and 37 year old Anitrea (Roxy) Leigh Taber of Shelton.
Shelton Police Lt. Les Watson tells us officers found a man and woman shot dead inside a trailer in the 200 Block of Harvard 1:00 yesterday morning. Watson said two “persons of interest” were detained.

Longshore

Police said in a statement last night that the “Investigation has led to the identification of 22-year-old Charles Sydney Longshore as the shooter. Longshore is described as a Native American male, 6-foot-2, 186 (pounds), with reddish brown hair and hazel eyes. He has a large tattoo on the left side of his neck.”
Longshore is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information that might assist in this investigation is urged to call the Shelton Police Department at 360-426-4441

BPA proposes rate increase to sustain hydro system value

BPA is holding down the proposed rate increase by not rebuilding its financial reserves, which have been diminished by two years of low runoff and reduced energy prices that resulted in losses exceeding $300 million. The strategy keeps rates lower for now amid a difficult economy, but exposes ratepayers to greater rate volatility. If Columbia River streamflow and the economy do not improve over the coming year, BPA would rely on short-term borrowing instead of reserves to meet financial obligations. The agency would then have to quickly raise rates further to repay the borrowed funds. 

“The hardest issues in any rate case involve balancing near-term and long-term rate consequences,” said BPA Administrator Steve Wright.  “We are trying to keep rates as low as possible now without compromising the tremendous value of these low cost electricity generating resources, which will help us keep rates reasonable in the long term.”

The main costs behind the proposed rate increase include:

  • Upgrades and major maintenance to the aging federal hydroelectric system, which includes many large components such as turbines and cranes that are beyond their planned design life.
  • Fuel purchases and repairs at Columbia Generating Station, the region’s only nuclear plant. BPA funds the plant and markets its power output. 
  • Improvements at dams and habitat restoration to protect Northwest salmon and steelhead as outlined in the federal Biological Opinion on federal hydropower system operation and Columbia Basin Fish Accords agreements with three Northwest states and seven Native American Tribes.

BPA’s customer utilities helped reduce cost pressures that initially might have pushed rates up by 12 to 20 percent during the coming rate period. In particular, customers supported the restructuring of debt obligations to Energy Northwest for past nuclear plant construction, which reduced overall cost pressures by about 5 percent. BPA also reduced internal costs and capitalized millions of dollars worth of energy efficiency projects to spread their costs more evenly over the long term.

The rate proposal will be considered during a public rate-setting process in the coming months, culminating in a July decision on final rates that would take effect Oct. 1, 2011. BPA is a non-profit federal wholesale utility that must recover its costs through power rates. The new rates will affect retail utilities differently depending on the amount of power and type of services they purchase from BPA. Local utilities ultimately determine the retail impact of BPA rates on individual businesses and residents. 

BPA sells power that is surplus to its Northwest customers’ needs on the competitive wholesale power market, and these revenues help reduce rates for BPA’s Northwest customers. Surplus power revenues have been lower than expected in recent years due to low Columbia River streamflows and low market prices during the economic downturn. The erosion of surplus power revenues caused BPA to draw on financial reserves in fiscal years 2009 and 2010.

A slightly lower rate increase might be possible if regional utilities settle a longstanding dispute over how benefits of the federal hydropower system are divided between public and investor-owned utilities. Such a settlement could modestly reduce costs for consumer-owned utilities and provide more predictable costs over the long term. Settlement discussions have continued since last spring.  

BPA will recover the costs of integrating rising amounts of wind power into the transmission grid through a separate wind integration charge paid by wind developers and purchasers. That rate will be determined through the same process of setting power rates. 

The Bonneville Power Administration, headquartered in Portland, Ore., is a not-for-profit federal electric utility under the Department of Energy that operates a high-voltage transmission grid comprising more than 15,000 miles of lines and associated substations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. It also markets more than a third of the electricity consumed in the Pacific Northwest. The power is produced at 31 federal dams operated by the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation and one nuclear Northwest plant and is sold to more than 140 Northwest utilities. BPA purchases power from some smaller projects, including wind generators, and has more than 3,000 megawatts of wind interconnected to its transmission system.

Report Gives Thumbs-Up to Pacific NW Legacy Roads Program

Federal funding for national forests in Oregon and Washington increased from $9.5 million in 2009 to $20 million in 2010.

The Forest Service report also credits the Legacy Roads and Trails program with expanding collaboration and partnerships.

Gov. Christine Gregoire’s chief of staff, Jay Manning, says collaboration with a variety of interests, including Native American tribes, has been crucial to the program’s success.

“The tribes, they live there, they know that these problems in the upper watershed have had a serious impact on the salmon runs; and part of this is about salmon restoration and that is part of the culture and part of the economy for these tribes.”

According to Manning, close collaboration with groups whose interests don’t always coincide will be even more critical in the next few years, given the nation’s tight budget.

The Washington Watershed Restoration Initiative honored Rep. Dicks on Friday with a Clean Water Hero Award. Manning was also honored for his work as the former director of the Washington Department of Ecology.