TAHOLAH, Wash. (AP) — The president of the Quinault Indian Nation says the tribe has decided to reopen Lake Quinault to nontribal use under new regulations…. …read more
From: AP Washington News
The Quinault Indian Nation is signatory to the Treaty with the Quinault of 1855. It, along with other Northwest treaties, has been repeatedly reaffirmed by the federal government, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and is thus legally classified as the “supreme law of the land” under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution.
“Coal dust and diesel particulates will find their way into our air and waterways as these trains pass along and over our rivers, doing damage to natural resources upon which the Nation depends,” said Sharp. “The United States Environmental Protection Agency, Tribal governments, and environmental organizations have voiced concerns over the threat to human health these proposals bring because of the adverse health effects of coal dust and diesel pollution, including bronchitis, emphysema, lung damage, asthma, and cancer. Our elders and our children are particularly vulnerable because of sensitivity to the health effects of fine particles,” she said.
“The Quinault Nation’s treaty fishing right includes a right of access to its traditional fishing, hunting, and gathering sites that will be impacted by increased vessel and rail traffic.
In the Resolution, the Quinault Business Committee expresses its solidarity and support for the “no” position regarding the Gateway Pacific Terminal proposal adopted by the Lummi Indian Business Council, based on documented disturbance of sacred burial grounds and proposed fill of that area for the purpose of containing over a hundred acres of coal piles.
The Resolution also endorses the words of Billy Frank, Jr., Nisqually tribal elder and longtime chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC) that, “We are at a legal and biological crossroads in our efforts to recover the salmon and preserve our tribal cultures, subsistence, spirituality, and economies. Not since the darkest days of the fishing rights struggle have we feared so deeply for the future of our treaty rights.” Quinault Nation, one of 20 member tribes of NWIFC, is signatory to “Treaty Rights at Risk” submitted to the federal government by that Commission. Among other things, that report states that coal export proposals will, in fact, further endanger Treaty Rights.
The Quinault Resolution will be submitted to President Obama, key members of the federal Administration, key members of Congress and to Governor Inslee.
Westway Terminal Company, based in Louisiana and Texas, has been pushing ahead toward construction of a new oil shipping terminal in Grays Harbor that would give it the capacity to store 800,000 barrels of crude oil at any given time. Westway predicts it will bring at least ten million barrels of crude oil annually through Grays Harbor, via rail and marine vessels. Two additional facilities for crude-by-rail—amounting to tens of millions of barrels of crude oil annually through Grays Harbor—are also being proposed in the same area, posing major environmental risks to the Grays Harbor community and the Quinault Nation. State and local regulators have decided to allow this proposal to go forward with minimal environmental review.
“It is not a matter of ‘if’ these shipments will cause a major spill; it’s a matter of ‘when’,” said Sharp. “The massive train, oil barge and ship traffic this project will bring to Grays Harbor is a tragedy waiting to happen. There will be spills and they will harm salmon, shellfish, and aquatic life, trample our treaty rights and cultural historic sites, and tie up traffic for extensive distances,” she said.
In 2012, major U.S. railroads transported at least 20 times as many carloads of crude oil as they did in 2008—more than a 2,000 percent increase in four years. “The number of accidents has risen proportionately,” said Sharp.
The Grays Harbor proposals add marine vessels to this patchwork system: crude oil would arrive by rail, be transferred into large storage tanks, then be piped into ocean-going barges and ships to be transported and again transferred to refineries in Washington or California.
“It has aptly been called a pipeline on wheels,” she said. “And this ill-conceived system has been given a short-cut permit process, with all the wheels greased, all for the very narrow interests of profits and short-term financial gain. But the money this project will bring into our area will be dwarfed by the devastation when the spills come. Just ask our neighbors to the north,” she said.