Friday, August 26, 2011

Sanitary Service Company's Commitment to Community

Locally owned and operated since 1929, Sanitary Service Company (SSC) is Whatcom County’s largest recycling and garbage collection company. SSC is a practitioner of numerous “award-winning” programs that align with the mission and vision of our organization- providing an exemplary model for others. They have helped Whatcom County become a nationally recognized leader in waste management and sustainable business practices. They are also valuable supporters of our organization- providing solid financial support through event sponsorships and other donations.

SSC’s environmental commitment is shown through the breadth of their sustainable business practices. Since 2005, SSC's garbage and recycling trucks have been running on biodiesel fuel, which is biodegradable, non-toxic and virtually free of sulfur and aromatics, and reduces emissions by up to 20%. "We hope our actions will encourage other local fleets to consider biodiesel as their fuel choice," said SSC Co-Owner Paul Razore. As a Toward Zero Waste pioneer, SSC practices waste reduction, reuse and recycling with more than 80% of their internal business waste. They are also using 100% of their electricity through Puget Sound Energy's Green Power program, making SSC the largest private business in Whatcom County to use 100% Green Power. SSC was also the first collection company in Washington to be included in the EnviroStars program, earning 5 stars (the highest rating possible) for their leadership activities in reduction of both hazardous and non-hazardous solid wastes, and sustainable business practices.

Eric Moe, owner of Kulshan Cycles, salutes SSC for their role in our community, "I respect and admire SSC for their commitment to our community; from the events and organizations they support to the best practices they employ in their day to day operations".

As the presenting sponsor of the 2011 Environmental Heroes Awards Banquet, SSC is helping RE Sources honor the individuals and businesses that volunteer and work on behalf of our environment and advocate for sustainable communities. We are honored and grateful for their continued commitment and the strong relationship that we have built together over the years.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Gateway Pacific Terminal - update August 17th

August 17th - It has been a fairly busy week already with talk of a 6-year moratorium being imposed on SSA Marine for destroying 9.1 acres of habitat that included trees, wetlands, and an archaeological site without a permit. (Thanks Jean for the posts)

This week also saw one of the first broadly circulated pieces on coal and coke dropping off trains in the area. This has been covered by us before ( but it is nice to see it covered on KING 5 TV as well.

This week also saw an opinion piece by Marysville’s mayor about current train traffic issues and how this 30 miles of added trains would cripple an already impacted system.

And last but not least, many of you in the Bellingham area may have gotten an e-mail from Karl Kleeman the president of the local railroad museum. Mr. Kleeman was critical of Whatcom DOCS efforts to talk about the potential health impacts of the terminal. Below is my response to Mr. Kleeman’s issues (his points are in italics). As usual, read all of this and pass it and the links along. And thank you all for you efforts, you are all doing a wonderful job.

Response to Karl Kleeman:

Dear Mr. Kleeman,

I am in receipt of your recent electronic communication regarding the coal trains. I take issue with your four points/questions (in italics) as follows:

1. How much diesel exhaust would you expect compared to the diesel exhaust
from all the trucks on I 5. Modern locomotives have some of the best clean
running diesels made. Complete burning of the fuel also makes them more
cost efficient. And of course the diesels are not moving the locomotive,
they are diesel electrics and the electric motors move the locomotive.

Yes modern diesels are more fuel efficient and emit less nitrogen and greenhouse gases than do diesel powered tractor trailer rigs. Unfortunately, when it comes to diesel particulates there is not a huge difference in the grams/ton mile of PM released (please see BNSF power point slide in Moreover, all indications are that the more we look at diesel particulates—especially those under 2.5 microns as well as the even smaller nano-particles—these very problematic health-wise. For the doctors in Whatcom County to characterize them otherwise would be irresponsible.

2. The noise from train diesels is not very significant compared with I 5 and other noise producers. The trains have to blow their horns by law to
keep people off the tracks.

Do you live near the tracks? Because for those of us who do this noise is non-trivial. We worry about its health impact as well as its impact on property values. Looking at what this project could add to an already difficult condition, one has only to multiply required horn blasts (5) by at-grade crossing (5) by number of trains at full capacity (9) by number of trips per day (2). This exercise yields 450 additional horn blast a day. Moreover, adding current traffic to projected traffic means one train every 45 minutes 24/7. This passes far beyond a trivial impact.

3. A mile long train going 20 mph, the speed limit in Bellingham will block
an intersection for 3 minutes. And if instead of saying no coal trains, we
said, put in a couple more overhead or underpass train crossings, we would
really help the traffic problem that already exists with the current train

Your estimate on train length is short by 50% and your speeds are optimistic. Empirical data are indicating 5-8 minutes but at Post Point where these 17500 ton trains often come to a full stop and have to start up again, we are seeing blocked crossings closer to 10 minutes and even longer if another train traveling in the other direction is involved. And while it is nice to talk about overpasses as a solution, federal law puts the burden of those types of improvements (90% or more) squarely on the shoulders of the tax payer and not the railroad.

4. The coal dust thing is just nonsense. Little if any as the train passes
through Bellingham and the terminal plans the newest in containment like the
coal will be dumped in a negative pressure building, no dust released and
even the coal conveyors will be enclosed and under negative pressure.

Just because the coal dust issue is complicated and at times unpredictable does not mean it does not exist or is nonsense. What does not exist is a coal dust free coal terminal or a working example of some of the technologies suggested by SSA Marine. They claim that the place where they unload rail cars will be under negative pressure (not the conveyors), but that leaves 80 acres of open mounds as well as dust scattered during handling and by the repeated movement of the elephant snout or snorkel loaders as they iteratively move from hold to hold to load ships evenly. Every place we have seen this technology employed we have seen decks covered with coal dust which ultimately finds its way into the water column. And all major coal terminals in North America have coal dust issues some of them currently under litigation.

I understand your love of trains. I love them too and see them as a solution when used appropriately and in the proper scale. This project violates both of those conditions. Rejection of this project is in no way a no-confidence vote on trains, but rather a condemnation of a project whose scale and cargo threaten the quality of life and health of folks all along the 624 mile delivery route in Washington State. Let’s stick to the facts and keep trains on the right track.

Bob Ferris

Friday, August 19, 2011

Time Magazine's "Hero of the Planet", Denis Hayes, keynote speaker for Environmental Heroes

Hero of the Planet, Denis Hayes to keynote 2011 Environmental Heroes Awards.

Denis Hayes Earth Day Founder
Denis Hayes, is an author, advocate, professor, and sustainability leader. National Coordinator of the first Earth Day, Hayes is well known for spreading the world’s most widely observed secular holiday to over 180 nations. Internationally recognized as a leader in environmental and energy policy, Hayes was named “Hero of the Planet” by Time Magazine.

Over his vast career, Hayes has served as head of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, professor of engineering at Stanford University, chair of the board of trustees of the Energy Foundation and the American Solar Energy Society, board member of Stanford University, the World Resources Institute, The Energy Foundation, the Federation of American Scientists, Greenpeace, CERES, Children Now, and the Environmental Grantmakers Association, to name a few.

Denis Hayes

Hayes has received the Jefferson Medal for Outstanding Public Service, and the highest awards bestowed by the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Council of America, the Global Environmental Facility of the World Bank, the American Solar Energy Society, and much more.

Through his current work as the President of the Bullitt Foundation, Hayes endeavors to make the Pacific Northwest into a global model for sustainable development.

Watch Video of Denis:

In honor of Earthday 2011, Denis Hayes, is interviewed on his "vision that changed the world" by Evening Magazine on King 5 News. The Seattle station's Michael King invites you to "meet the local guy who kick started us on the way to thinking, talking and doing something about the mess we make". Denis reflects on the first Earthday and the progress the nation has made in the more than 30 years since.

Watch Denis speak with King 5 News on "The Most Energy Efficient Building in the World" - Video

"Imagine a downtown Seattle building where you pay no energy bills. A building so green, it acts more like a living organism than a mix of metal and mortar. One is being built in Seattle right now. KING 5's Eric Wilkinson reports".

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Crazy Couple of Weeks for Coal

At the very time we were anticipating SSA’s re-application for permits (since they were rejected a few weeks ago for being incomplete), it turns out they were already starting work on part of their property—without any permits at all to do so. The ensuing mess is summarized below.

How did this all start?

Last week, County Councilman Carl Weimer, while walking his dog in a favorite area of Cherry Point, took the time to investigate what looked like suspicious activity on SSA’s property, which they hope to use for the Gateway Pacific Terminal. He blogged about it here:

SSA Release 1: In which SSA denies any wrongdoing:

July 29
Work on the site comes as a surprise to officials:

July 30—August 3
Analysis of what was actually done and where:

August 1st
King 5 TV--Bob Ferris and Pete Kremen agree—SSA wasn’t allowed to do that:

Radio--Carl Weimer and Bob Watters may disagree, however:

August 2
Radio—Matt Krogh and Joe Teehan discuss the lack of any permits at all for the work SSA was doing on its coal terminal (skip to 25:00 min. into broadcast):

August 3
SSA Release 2: In which SSA admits that, in fact, there may have been wrongdoing--

Bob’s response: “The fact that a multi-billion dollar international corporation illegally damaged habitat and wetlands and disregarded best management practices in an area outside the geographic scope of their permits demonstrates a lack of attention to detail that is unacceptable given SSA Marine’s size and purported environmental ethic. The fact that their first response was a strident denial of any wrong-doing in the face of contrary evidence does not reflect well on SSA’s ethics or dedication to their inferred public trust responsibility. An eleventh-hour defensive apology does nothing to alter these two facts, because their actions have already spoken louder than their words.”

Crosscut article on SSA admitting mistakes:

Skagit County Commissioners start to get involved:

The Bellingham Herald on “Cargo terminal proposal part of national debate over jobs, environment:”

In related news, the Settlement Agreement that governs the old version of this project won’t be modified despite extensive lobbying and negotiations by SSA:

Here's what YOU can do:

These calls just take a few minutes and they are what can help STOP this!

Call Public Lands Commissioner Goldmark at (360) 902-1004
Ask him “Please, don’t use Washington’s public waters for coal export.”

Call Whatcom County Council at (360) 676-6690
Ask them to ensure that Whatcom County says “No to coal export out of Cherry Point and enforce all environmental provisions.”

Call Whatcom County Council Executive Kremen at (360) 676-6717
Simply say, "Thank You for standing up for what’s right and holding SSA Marine accountable.”

Stay tuned to RE

-written by Matt Krogh, North Sound Baykeeper

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Announcing this year's Environmental Heroes...

RE Sources' 9th Annual Environmental Heroes Awards Banquet is just around the corner, and we're excited to announce our 2011 HEROES!

Environmental Heroes is our way to honor those individuals who work tirelessly on behalf of our environment and our community. Past Heroes have included educators, business owners, volunteers, and community members.

Click on each hero to read their full bio.

The Bellingham Food Bank for their work in creating extraordinary programs to localize food sources, provide sustainability skills and healthy food to Whatcom County residents.

Bill Dietrich for his legacy as an advocate of the environmental through journalism and education as an author and professor at WWU Huxley College of the Environment.

Gerald Larson is survived by his family and will receive the Lifetime Achievement award for his advocacy for marine health, serving multiple organizations like the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement, Marine Resources Committee, and Birch Bay Watershed Aquatic Resource Management.

John Davies for his longstanding work in residential energy conservation, through a variety of programs and focus on education with the Opportunity Council, the Indoor Air Coalition, and the Community Energy Challenge.

Marie Hitchman
will be recognized for her tireless efforts to preserve water quality and native plant ecosystems through the Whatcom County Beach Watchers, Cherry Point work group, RE Sources Beach Naturalist, and the Native Plant Society.

Robyn du Pré for her longstanding leadership in preserving natural resources, advocating for sustainability and healthy communities through her involvement with RE Sources, Futurewise, Whatcom Land Trust, and many other local organizations.

Special thanks to our cornerstone sponsor: