We just avoided tripling Washington’s carbon footprint
We just avoided tripling Washington’s carbon footprint
Friday June 02, 2017

Big news. The small community of Whatcom County in Washington state just scored a huge victory in the fight against fossil fuel expansion in the face of Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.

Following four hours of public testimony -- in council chambers packed to the brim and spilling out into the hall -- the Whatcom County Council voted 6-1 on sweeping new protections for Cherry Point, one of the last possible undeveloped deepwater dock sites on the West Coast. Their new Comprehensive Plan effectively stops any new unrefined fossil fuel export infrastructure at Cherry Point.

This is a major local win in the fight against fossil fuels.

It protects fishing jobs, and resources used by the Lummi Nation -- whose ancestors have hunted, fished and lived in this area, known as  Xwe'chi'eXen, since time immemorial. It also plants a massive barrier between the fossil fuel industry and world markets.

This victory was won by hundreds of local volunteers who gave public comments, wrote letters, made phone calls, and whose dedication inspired others to take action. If you were one of those volunteers, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Here’s what the groundbreaking decision means:

1. We just avoided tripling Washington’s carbon footprint. Cherry Point has been at the center of the fossil fuel industry's push to export more coal, oil, natural gas and propane. Last week’s vote deals a major blow to all these proposals. Up to 200 million tons of CO2 will now be blocked from Pacific markets – a pollution amount twice the size of Washington State’s annual carbon footprint!

2. Fossil fuel investors won’t be happy. In the face of growing resistance in Vancouver, Canada, pipeline giant Kinder Morgan was considering redirecting its proposed Trans Mountain pipeline to Cherry Point. With the County’s vote last week, Kinder Morgan now has no Plan B.

3. Local organizing wins. This work has set an example of how local governments can create policies  that pushes for fossil fuel-free economies before infrastructure and export facilities are even proposed. It’s the first of its kind in a county with existing refineries. With Trump in the White House, strong leadership on climate at the local level is more important than ever.

4. Coalition-building changes the game. RE Sources for Sustainable Communities and the Stand Up to Oil coalition as well as the hundreds of dedicated volunteers have been critical partners in this project. We also worked with local union leaders to protect refinery workers’ jobs and Whatcom Council members who led the charge -- Rud Browne, Barry Buchanan, Todd Donovan, Ken Mann, Satpal Sidhu, and Carl Weimer.

The fight is not over.

Next, Whatcom County will commission a study to fully operationalize these forward-looking policies. And the coalition of leaders, partner organizations, and community volunteers will be right there to the end.

Wherever you live, you too can convince your local decision-makers to refuse to permit massive new fossil fuel infrastructure.