Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Welcome Kate Blystone!

RE Sources is delighted to announce Kate Blystone as our new Program Director! Kate has over 13 years of experience in the public, private, and non-profit sectors working on various environmental and urban planning projects. She has an extensive history volunteering. Kate is a member of the Bellingham City Club board and vice president of the Northwest Section of the Washington state chapter of the American Planning Association.  Kate says, “I’m excited to use my planning and policy experience to help find creative and collaborative solutions to make our communities socially and environmentally stronger.”

Kate’s expertise, and the bulk of her experience, is in land use planning – designing the future physical arrangement and condition of a community. She is a graduate of Western Washington University and has a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Eastern Washington University.  Kate’s interest in planning stems from a desire to efficiently use land in a way that preserves and protects natural resources. She is teaching Introduction to Urban Planning at Western Washington University to enthusiastic young students this quarter and loves to share her experience with the next generation of planners.

Kate is passionate about fostering a harmonious connection with earth’s natural resources. She grew up as a farm girl in eastern Washington and that experience instilled in her a deep appreciation for the land.  Kate wants to foster flourishing environmental resources for this generation, and those to come, in support of a sustainable future.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Little Free libraries sprouting in Bellingham

(Courtesy of The Bellingham Herald, Published: November 4, 2013)

Eberhard Eichner can imagine the fun of browsing for books along curbsides while taking a walk in one of Bellingham's neighborhoods.

He's helping bring that dream closer to reality after introducing Bellingham, well known as a town that loves books, to the national organization Little Free Library.

His skills fit well with the Wisconsin organization founded three years ago.

Eichner, 60, was the first to serve as lead designer and builder for the REvision Division of the RE Store, using salvaged and donated materials to create furniture and other home items. The division won the 2013 Recycler of the Year Reuse Award from the Washington State Recyclers Association.

Question: How did you learn about Little Free Library?

Answer: It started when a customer came into the RE Store about a year and a half ago. He told me about the program and was looking for materials so he could install a Little Free Library.
I researched the program founded in the Midwest and I built the first (local) set of three of them. He bought one from the store. Since then, several have been created and sold in our Bellingham and Seattle stores.

Q: How well has the concept caught on?

A: Amazingly well! More than 10,000 Little Free libraries have been installed nationwide. There are more than two dozen Little Free libraries in Bellingham. If you go on their website you can click on a map for each city and find out where each Little Free Library is located.

Q: So, essentially, people leave books in small, protected bookshelves to share with their neighbors?

A: That's right. I absolutely love the idea. I'm an avid reader myself, with eclectic tastes; research books, poetry, mysteries.

Q: What are these little libraries made of?

A: The libraries currently on display and available for purchase utilize former upper kitchen cabinets. A second "outer skin" with a roof is put around the existing shape using reclaimed cedar boards, shakes, shingles or other scrap exterior siding material. They're like little "houses" for books.

Q: How do you protect them from the weather?

A: The outsides can be clear-coated with exterior oil, deck stain or paints. The doors of cabinets often can be reused after cutting an opening to allow the user to see the books. A piece of shatterproof acrylic glass is placed over the opening and salvaged weather stripping is placed around the door.

Q: What other materials can be used?

A: Big drawers, small bookcases and various wooden chests, crates and boxes. You might have the right stuff in your attic, basement or garage.
To defray the cost, neighbors can team up to purchase a box. Neighbors can take turns as curators of the box.

Q: What else do you advise?

A: Since they have to be anchored by a pole, be sure to call utilities before you do any digging.

Q: Do you encourage customers to talk with you?

A: Yes! I call myself a "repurpose coach." On Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the RE Store (2309 Meridian St.) people can come and talk with me, first come, first served. I teach demonstrations of how I can help people repurpose materials.

For details about the Little Free Library program, go to
For more about the REvision Division of the RE Store, go to and click on "RE Made Furniture."

To read the full story from The Bellingham Herald, please visit

Read more here:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Initiative 522 Coming to the Ballot This November: Learn More at Upcoming Events

This fall, voters in Washington state will get to decide whether or not to label GMOs with Initiative 522.

What is I-522?

Initiative 522 is an effort by local businesses, farmers, and health professionals to expand consumer choice over the food they eat. If passed by Washington voters in November, our state would join over 65 countries worldwide that currently require the labeling of genetically-modified food sold in grocery stores. I-522 is currently being fought by several large agribusiness corporations, who poured millions into a campaign to narrowly defeat a similar measure in California last year.

How Can I Get Involved?

This is a short list of some of the events and opportunities for engagement coming up in Whatcom County between now and the November 5 election. You can also learn more about the ballot measure at the Yes on I-522 campaign website,

A basic overview of the measure, along with arguments for and against, is presented by the League of Women Voters:

If you would like to join a community e-mail list serve that focuses on land use, food and farming issues, please contact Matt Petryni at to get signed up.

Upcoming I-522 Events

"GMO OMG" Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Wednesday, October 9 at 6:00 pm

Pickford Film Center

1318 Bay Street, Bellingham (map)

Tickets at

Director Jeremy Seifert investigates how loss of seed diversity and corresponding laboratory assisted genetic alteration of food affects his young children, the health of our planet, and freedom of choice everywhere. Q&A with Steve Crider, Amy’s Kitchen; Courtney Pineau, Non-GMO Project; and Krista Rome, Backyard Beans & Grains Project. Movie information at

Click here to find a Facebook event.

March Against Monsanto and GMO Foods
Saturday, October 12 at 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm
O'Donnell's Flea Market
405 East Champion Street, Bellingham (map)

Meet at O'Donnells Flea Market at 1 pm. We will rally and then march downtown to show our global support agsinst Monsanto snd their cohorts. After the march, join us for live music, local speakers, artists. We will also be accepting donations for the Bellingham Food Bank.

Click here to find the Facebook event.

“Genetic Roulette” Film Screening
October 18, 2013 at 7:00 to 8:30 pm
Bellingham Public Library
210 Central Ave, Bellingham (map)

This seminal documentary provides compelling evidence to help explain the deteriorating health of Americans, especially among children, and offers a recipe for protecting ourselves and our future. It will be screened in Lynden by Occupy Bellingham.

Check out the trailer here:

GMOs: Your Right to Know
Thursday, October 17 at 7:00 to 9:00 pm
Settlemyer Family Hall, Bellingham Technical College
3028 Lindbergh Ave, Bellingham (map)

Join Megan Westgate, executive director of the Non-GMO Project, and Delana Jones, campaign director for Yes on I-522, to hear the inside scoop on GMOs and the I-522 campaign.

Non-GMO Corn Preservation with Krista Rome and Courtney Pineau
Monday, October 21, 6:30-8 pm
Cordata Co-op
315 Westerly Ave, Bellingham
Free: Click here to register.

A free informational session on the Non-GMO Corn Preservation Project. Learn about the importance of preserving sources of locally adapted non-GMO seeds, good varieties of grain corn for the Pacific Northwest, and how to be a seed steward. You’ll also get cooking tips, and hear the results of hand pollination trials. Krista Rome is director of the Backyard Beans & Grains Project, and Courtney Pineau is assistant director of the Non-GMO Project.

Register for this workshop here.

Ballot Issues and Bellingham School Board Forum

Saturday, October 19, at 9:30 am to 12:00 pm
Bellingham City Council Chambers
210 Lottie St, Bellingham (map)

This League of Women Voters forum will address state and local ballot measures up for a vote in Whatcom County, including I-522, which would label genetically modified foods and support consumer choice. Also on the agenda are school board candidates and the local schools bonding measure.

Continue the Conversation on GMOs
Wednesday, October 23 at 11:45 pm to 12:45 pm
Community Food Co-op Connections Building
1220 N. Forest St, Bellingham (map)

For League members interested in participating in conversations with other members on "hot topics", we have scheduled a brown bag lunch session that will provide an opportunity to further explore issues about Initiative 522 and GMOs in general. The date is four days after the forum.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Call to Action: Cornwall Avenue Landfill Comments Due Today!

This report written by Baykeeper Interns Chris Armstrong and Monica Tonty.


We are currently in a key stage of the waterfront redevelopment: the comment period for the cleanup options for former Cornwall Avenue landfill ends Friday, September 20th. Once the cleanup has been completed, the site could become the location of Bellingham’s newest waterfront park. 
Location of the Cornwall Avenue Landfill,
the site of a proposed waterfront park.
On the evening of September 17th, approximately 30 community members joined RE Sources’ Baykeeper team at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship to learn about the current proposal. Brian Gouran from the Port of Bellingham was kind enough to attend the workshop to answer any questions that the community might have about the project. Wendy Steffensen, RE Sources' Lead Scientist, informed the attendees that during the Cleanup Action Plan there is another stage for public comments, but at that point “not much changes,” so now is the time to make your voice heard. We want a high quality, long-lasting cleanup that will be protective of public and environmental health.  The cleanup option that the Port and Department of Ecology has dubbed, “the preferred alternative” may not be the best choice.

The Dioxin-Contaminated "Cap"

In 2011, an interim action was taken to dredge 47,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from Squalicum Harbor to store it on top of the former Cornwall landfill site as a “beneficial reuse” material for capping the landfill. When asked whether the audience was familiar with the interim action, about half of the attendees raised their hands. The “beneficial reuse” sediment is contaminated with 14 ppt of dioxin, which exceeds the standard for open water (4 ppt) and residential standards (11 ppt). Dioxins may cause cancer, disrupt the endocrine system, and cause reproductive and developmental effects. 

The dioxin-polluted sediment was mixed with cement in order to bind up the dioxin and make an impermeable cap that would prevent water from spreading the pollutants from the underlying waste. The issue of beneficial reuse of waste material, Wendy Steffensen noted, is a philosophical issue that needs to be discussed. “Do we as a community think it is alright to use this waste material as a capping material? That’s a question that I think everyone needs to ask.”  

Cornwall Avenue Landfill site following the interim cleanup action in 2011.
When the audience was asked whether or not the dioxin should be removed, almost everyone raised their hands indicating support for removal. And then the question became, “how much more are we willing to pay to have it removed?” Alternative 4 of the RI/FS proposes this option, but the cost of moving the waste again would be costly. Instead, the waste will be dealt with on site, which raises questions about the safety of storing toxic sediments in a seismically active zone. Are there ways that the dioxin can be released? Can the dioxin material be inundated by rainwater, ground water, or sea level rise? According to Gouran, the current plan accounts for 2.4 feet sea-level rise over 100 years. Is that enough?

Protective Liner

Sample liners were passed around during the presentation and the audience got a chance to compare the liners that could be used to cap the piles of dioxin. The first liner that was passed around was the 20-mil scrim-reinforced liner that is proposed for use in Alternative 2, the Port’s “Preferred Alternative.” This is the liner that has been covering the dioxin piles for the past couple of years. The second liner that was passed around was the 60-mil high density polyethylene (HDPE) liner that is used commonly used by the landfill industry, and is the liner proposed for use in Alternative 3. 

Lee First, RE Sources Pollution Prevention Specialist, noted that the liners also come in 80-mil and 100-mil thicknesses and that from her experience the 20-mil liners are impossible to weld together. Instead, the 20-mil liners have to be sewn and taped, which creates points of weakness where water seepage could occur. It was also noted that the 20-mil liner has a relatively low protection guarantee of around 5 years compared to the 60-mil and greater liners that would last 40 to 50 years, or more. Audible gasps swept across the room when the audience learned that the liner proposed in the “Preferred Alternative” only has a guarantee of 5 years. Someone in the audience posed the question, isn’t it “irrelevant how long the liner will last when we’re going to have an earthquake or tsunami in the next few years?” 

Fish Consumption Rate

Steffensen also pointed out that with the unrealistic fish consumption rates in Washington, bioaccumulation of toxins through food is an issue for Cornwall Avenue Landfill clean-up plans. Washington currently uses one of the lowest fish consumption rates to set water pollution standards, but has one of the highest fish consuming populations.

Current Fish Consumption Rate is 6.5 grams/day for water quality standards and 54 g/day for surface water cleanup standards. 250 grams looks more like a good sized dinner.

Our Preferred Alternative: Alternative #3

Clean surface and groundwater could become polluted before entering the bay as it flows through the waste material. The preferred alternative 2 provides some protection from water flow through the site. However, alternative 3 also includes an upgradient groundwater diversion barrier which provides further protection. 

Other key issues that came up during the workshop: What about the bioaccumulation effect and the current fish consumption rates?  What will happen to dredged contaminated sediment in the future? Will habitat restoration and enhancement be included in the plan? How will pollutants in the neighboring R.G Haley site affect the clean-up process? The current preferred alternative doesn’t satisfactorily address these concerns and unless an effective clean-up plan is formed, one member of the audience commented we might be renaming Cornwall Avenue Landfill, “Dioxin Park.”

Ecology chose Alternative 2 because the “disproportionate cost analysis” tool showed a slight increase in cost for Alternative 3 in relation to its overall benefit. However this is a subjective calculation; if another team had done the calculation, the results could be different. As Steffensen pointed out, they didn’t take into account public opinion on the benefit of including things like a liner with a warranty of more than 5 years or a groundwater diversion barrier. 
A subjective "disproportionate cost analysis" is used to evaluate the four cleanup results.
This graph demonstrates the findings of the disproportionate cost analysis for the four cleanup alternatives.
Whether you want to endorse Alternative 3, or have other suggestions, join us and submit comments to Mark Adams at or 3190 160th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98008 by Friday, September 20th and ensure that this clean-up plan accounts for the many concerns associated with the polluted waste in the Cornwall Avenue landfill.



Background information on the hazards of dioxins:

The full RI/FS (cleanup study) is available on the Department of Ecology website:

Sample letters and the slides from the September 17th presentation can currently be found on the front page of RE Sources website:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Majority of Washington Voters Oppose Coal Exports

Latest polling results show substantial movement
in public opinion against coal terminal projects.
Many of our readers will be pleased to find out the latest polling results on the coal trains and coal export terminals proposed in Washington and Oregon. It has always been clear support for the proposals declines dramatically as their details become more well-known. Monday's poll provides a definite example of how the work of hundreds of volunteers making thousands of phone calls and knocking on thousands of doors has made a huge difference.

Clear majorities of voters in both Washington and Oregon now oppose the proposed coal export terminals. In Washington, 51% of voters say they oppose transporting coal through Washington in route to Asia. In Oregon, 54% of voters share their opposition.

Moving public opinion on a contentious issue is never easy. But the commitment of volunteers who have taken the time to stand up, educate their community, and fight back against the coal companies has had an persistent and growing impact over the last two years.

"These recent results reinforce what we experience at the grassroots level, and confirms reports from our volunteers," said Crina Hoyer, Executive Director of RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, part of the regional coalition working to stop coal exports that conducted the poll. "The more people learn about the impacts of coal exports, the less likely they are to support them."

The latest poll results come right as the coalition is planning to roll out a series of new TV ads to help people do exactly that: help people learn more about the issue and how they can make a difference. The first TV ad, called "Washington Families Against Coal Trains," highlights a multigenerational family living near the train tracks and their concerns about the plan to ship dangerous coal from the Powder River Basin through our communities for export in Asia.

One of several ad spots featuring Washington families that will air this month.
Rick Marshall, a Camas resident and one of the family members profiled in the Power Past Coal spot, says that he and his family understand the importance of spreading the word about the dangers of exporting coal. In addition to appearing in the TV ad, the Marshalls have volunteered by talking to their friends and neighbors, encouraging their community to join the movement against dangerous coal export plans. "Coal is a terrible deal for Washington families," said Marshall. "These coal trains and coal terminals are dirty and generate lots of pollution. They will hurt our communities and we shouldn't have to pay with our health so some coal executive can make a few extra bucks."
The beautiful work of Jewell James and the
House of Tears carvers, will serve as part of the
reason for Northwest Tribes to gather
and learn more about the Lummis'
stand on coal at Cherry Point.

The timing of the ad push isn't random. Today marks the kick off of two major events: the Totem Pole Journey led by Jewell James, a respected elder and master carver in the Lummi community, and the scoping hearings for the Longview coal terminal.

The Totem Pole Journey is an opportunity for the Lummi community to bring its message and opposition to tribal nations all over the Pacific Northwest, and stops include reservations along the rail line as well as major cities like Portland and Seattle. The trip will make a stop at Cherry Point on September 27th, where the totem pole will be blessed before being presented as a gift to the Tsliel-Waututh nation in North Vancouver.

In addition, the first of five scoping hearings on the coal terminal proposed for Longview, Washington will provide an opportunity for the public to comment on the scope of the environmental review for the 44-million ton facility. Many of the issues at Longview overlap with the concerns for Cherry Point, including train traffic and the potential impact to our region's vital salmon fishery. In addition, the Longview proposal has also generated opposition among local tribal nations, including the Cowlitz tribe who announced their opposition just last month.

As the hearings start gearing up and we begin to hear more from the communities affected by the coal export terminal, it will be important for many of the people who learned so much working on scoping comments for Cherry Point to get engaged and take action. Now is the time to ask for impacts on rail communities to be studied, as well as fishing, tribal, climate, and economic concerns. It only makes sense for the review in Longview to be as extensive as the review in Cherry Point -- which is why it's critical we ask for it.

For More Information

Check out the full poll results here:

Support and learn more about the Lummi Totem Pole Journey on Indiegogo:

Find the full schedule of hearings for the Longview coal terminal here:

You can still learn about the impacts of the proposed coal terminals and how to make good scoping comments at our updated scoping page:

Friday, August 23, 2013

RE Sources Says Goodbye to Matt Krogh

RE Sources’ staff, board and supporters bid a bittersweet adieu to Matt Krogh, our North Sound Baykeeper for the past three years. Bitter because we love him; sweet because we know sprouting leaders and off-shooting them to positions of greater influence is one of the most important ways we create the future we want to see. 

In one of his last staff meetings, Matt likened RE Sources' green house nature to the reproductive patterns of the Chlorophytum comosum, commonly known as the Spider Plant.  Ensuring the continuation of her genetics, the "Mala Madre" grows planttlets within her leaves, then expels them to root themselves and become independent bodies.

So many past employees of RE Sources have sprung from RE Sources' heart to root themselves into important roles of authority: Carl Weimer, Dave Bennick, Jack Weiss, Carol Rondello, Lisa Friend, Kyle Morris, Dean Fearing, and so many more. The list of leaders we’ve helped cultivate, watched blossom within our walls, then said goodbye to as they branch out into the larger community gives us confidence in leadership we can work along side to create a thriving, sustainable future.

Such is the case with Matt, who is moving into a new position at ForestEthics as director of their nascent Tar Sands Free West Coast campaign. His position will involve work up and down the entire west coast to create an unbroken barrier against the flow of fossil fuels from North America into the world's markets.

We couldn’t be more proud – or more excited to see Matt’s intelligence, leadership, and tenacity applied to such an important issue. With the two giant coal terminal proposals we've been fighting soon to go into draft EIS phase for a few years, the imminent and extreme threat represented by tar sands (and other crude) by rail and vessel needs to be addressed – and now.

We need strong leaders in positions of influence now more than ever. While it’s hard to see him go, we are so excited for the work that Matt will be doing to oppose irresponsible national fuel trafficking. And we are looking forward to many future partnerships with ForestEthics.

“I've loved campaigning for clean water and against coal as RE Sources' North Sound Baykeeper,” Matt says. “Highlights abound: working with Washington Waterkeepers to file suit against EPA to get Washington an accurate fish consumption rate, creek patrols looking for non-point-source pollution, getting kids to the beach for naturalist programs, and meeting so many incredible people dedicated to clean water--truly remarkable experiences all.” 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

SSA Marine's Actions Prove They Cannot Be Trusted

Photo of the Cherry Point reach, the proposed site of the coal terminal.
After a year-and-a-half legal battle, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities (RE Sources) has entered a settlement with SSA Marine-owned Pacific International Terminals (PIT) for PIT’s illegal filling of 1.2 acres of wetlands at Cherry Point, WA. As part of the settlement, PIT will pay $1.6 million in penalties and fees, including a payment of $825,000 to the nonprofit Rose Foundation for restoration projects to benefit Puget Sound. PIT will also set aside 2.9 acres of wetlands to help mitigate part of the damage caused by the wetland impacts of this illegal fill.

RE Sources receives no money from the settlement.

“In 2011, PIT violated the Clean Water Act and ignored local and national permitting requirements when it built nearly 5 miles of roads, filling or clearing nearly 3 acres of wetlands in the process,” said Crina Hoyer, Executive Director at RE Sources. “Unbelievably, they also bulldozed and drilled in a registered Lummi historical site known to contain burial sites. They tell us to trust them, but PIT’s leadership knew exactly what they were doing when they broke the law.”

PIT’s destruction of wetlands was part of a larger unpermitted geotechnical investigation project, authorized by PIT on property currently planned for the Gateway Pacific Coal Terminal. The data gathered by the geotechnical investigation supports project planning and design. According to evidence collected by RE Sources, PIT knowingly violated the law and attempted to cover up its actions in order to gain this valuable information.

“When dealing with an economically unstable commodity like coal, a few years can make a big difference in the profitability of a project. The information they gained will certainly help them expedite their proposal. This is a classic case of begging for forgiveness, rather than asking permission,” said Hoyer.

Hoyer’s statement is reinforced by a leading national expert on large-scale construction project management, Philip S. Lanterman. After conducting an in-depth analysis of the evidence, Lanterman stated “In my opinion, it is probable that PIT intentionally chose to proceed with the geotechnical investigation without necessary permits to obtain the expected economic benefit of securing the geotechnical information early in the project timeline, and PIT has actually received such benefit.”

SSA Marine had permits to do geotechnical studies on part of the property, but the settlement finds them at fault for venturing well outside their legal limits. The settlement is among the largest in the history of the Clean Water Act's dredge and fill provisions.
Lanterman further found that “PIT’s efforts to ensure legal compliance of the geotechnical investigation were so far below the standard of care that, in my opinion, they evidence extreme recklessness as to legal compliance or, more likely, an intentional violation of the law.”

SSA Marine, the corporate home for PIT, has decades of experience developing marine port facilities, including building new operations and providing engineering, port design, terminal construction and project management services. With so much experience in project construction, it is difficult to understand how PIT could simply fail to obtain 6 necessary permits before conducting this work.

According to RE Sources’ attorney Richard Smith, “PIT acknowledged that they knew beforehand that permits or authorizations were required not only from the Army Corps, but also from Ecology and the County. They could offer no explanation for why they didn't get these, except that following the law 'fell through the cracks.' Then, their own wetlands consultant testified that she was 'appalled' by the destruction PIT caused. What does this say about how they are likely to conduct themselves in building and running a huge coal terminal?"

SSA’s own internal documents show that, in the months leading up to the clearing, SSA had multiple exchanges with Whatcom County, the Department of Ecology, and the Army Corps of Engineers, discussing the permits and the processes needed to perform the clearing legally. Had SSA applied for the appropriate permits, the Army Corps would have been consulted on Clean Water Act permits, resulting in consultation with the Lummi and Nooksack Indian tribes about SSA’s plans to drill and clear land in known Indian burial grounds.

The Whatcom County Council and a variety of state and federal agencies will, at some point, make a decision whether or not to approve permits for SSA’s coal terminal at Cherry Point. Each of those agencies--the DNR, Ecology, Fish and Wildlife, and others--will be acting in the public’s interest, in the public trust. SSA has demonstrated through its actions that it is willing to ignore, or forget, or willingly violate environmental laws, even at the earliest stages of this project. Hoyer concludes, “When SSA can’t even comply with basic permitting requirements, how can we trust them with the complex elements necessary to protect human health, the Puget Sound, and the resources on which our community relies?”

Press Contacts

Crina Hoyer, Executive Director at RE Sources, (360) 223-8678
Matt Krogh, North Sound Baykeeper at RE Sources, (360) 820-2938

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Washington Supreme Court hands a victory to RE Sources

BIAW Held Accountable for Fiduciary Misuse, RE Sources, A1 Builders & Other Small Businesses Handed a Victory  

By Crina Hoyer & Rick Dubrow 
Thursday, July 11th 

Yesterday, the Washington Supreme Court handed a victory to RE Sources, A-1 Builders and other small businesses challenging the Building Industry Association of Washington ("BIAW") for breach of trust in connection with its retrospective rating program.

The Court of Appeals previously ruled that the BIAW had breached its fiduciary duties by skimming interest off trust funds belonging to thousands of small businesses. It also held that BIAW was restricted in how it uses millions of dollars it has removed from the trust over the years. The Court of Appeals required the BIAW to return certain funds to the businesses and pay the plaintiff attorneys’ fees.

The BIAW appealed the Supreme Court, which refused to hear the challenge. Therefore, the Court of Appeals decision stands firm. “We are thankful to the Supreme Court for upholding this decision,” said Crina Hoyer, Executive Director of RE Sources, “The BIAW misused funds, and violated the trust of its members and they needed to be held accountable.”

The Court of Appeals held that the BIAW, its for-profit affiliate, and its trust were responsible for improperly commingling trust funds and skimming interest from the trust. It ordered the BIAW to return the funds.

Most significant was the Court of Appeals decision that the BIAW was only allowed to use the multi-million dollar “Marketing Assistance Fee” it took from the trust for legitimate marketing purposes. During the period at issue, BIAW paid itself over $20 million in “marketing fees” from the trust. By all accounts only a fraction was used for marketing. The BIAW has admitted that it treated these trust funds as profit and used them to fund its political program, including its notorious, multi-million dollar effort to elect Dino Rossi as governor in 2008.

The Court of Appeals remanded the case back to the trial court to determine the amount of improper expenditures. Finally, the Court of Appeals granted Plaintiffs their attorneys’ fees and costs incurred at trial on successful issues and on appeal.

Eight small companies have filed lawsuits seeking to hold BIAW accountable for breach of trust and to require the BIAW to return wrongful profit back to over 10,000 BIAW members who participated in the BIAW’s retrospective rating (“retro”) program. Under retro, BIAW members earned hundreds of millions of dollars in tax refunds and the State of Washington paid all these refunds to the BIAW. The BIAW agreed to hold these refunds “in trust” for its member participants, but instead commingled the trust funds with its own moneys and skimmed interest and principal from the trust for its own use.

The Court of Appeals’ decision was on the first lawsuit, In re Washington Builders Benefit Trust, which has been ongoing since approximately 2008 and went to trial in 2010. “Our state’s Supreme Court has now solidified the Court of Appeals decision imposing an across-the-board victory for the members of the BIAW. We trusted the BIAW and the Court agreed that the BIAW abused this trust. Now the BIAW will have to return the funds it took from thousands of small businesses across the State,” said Rick Dubrow, owner of A-1 Builders, one of the small-businesses that served as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs in the case are represented by Seattle attorneys Knoll Lowney and Mike Withey, and the Arizona law firm of Bonnett, Fairbourne, Friedman & Balint, PC. The appeal is being handled by the Seattle law firm of Smith Goodfriend, PS.

Click here to read Smith & Lowney's Press Release.

Rick Dubrow
is the CEO of A-1 BUILDERS, INC. and ADAPTATIONS, our design division, recognized as Bellingham and Whatcom County's premier design/build contractor working towards sustainable business and construction practices! We are a full-service remodeling and custom home builder, addressing both residential and light commercial projects. Our team is committed to outstanding workmanship, impeccable aesthetics, and green, sustainable designs that will last many lifetimes.

Crina Hoyer is the Executive Director of RE Sources for Sustainable Communtities, a non-profit sustainability organization founded in 1982. RE Sources promotes sustainable communities and protects human and environmental health through application of science, education, advocacy and action. Our vision is to see people living satisfying lives in accord with the ecosystem we depend on – generation after generation. To attain this vision, we operate five programs: Sustainable Schools, an in-school program that empowers school children to be waste, energy and transportation ambassadors; North Sound Baykeeper, charged with reducing water pollution, protecting and improving aquatic habitat; Sustainable Living Center, teaching skills to empower families to live more sustainably; and The RE Stores, providing green jobs and diverting millions of pounds from regional waste streams each year, and the Power Past Coal coalition, working to prevent the West Coast from becoming a high volume coal corridor.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Area-wide assessment of impacts sought for proposed coal terminal

by Crina Hoyer, Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald
Published June 1, 2013

A few months ago community members including doctors, teachers, business-owners, fishers and tribal members from the pacific northwest and beyond submitted 124,000 comments to the Department of Ecology, Army Corps of Engineers and Whatcom County Planning Department with requests that these regulating agencies assess a broad range of probable impacts associated with the proposed Gateway Pacific coal terminal (GPT).

And just last week, a powerful and growing grassroots movement rallied in Vancouver against another coal terminal proposal in our region -- this one in Surrey, B.C. -- raising concerns about the combined impacts of the many different coal export terminal proposals throughout the Pacific Northwest.

As the Gateway Pacific Terminal environmental assessment progresses, our community must continue to hold our regulating agencies accountable for the various potential impacts of the proposed coal port at Cherry Point. But with a total of four remaining coal export terminals proposed in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, we also need to be sure we understand the cumulative impacts of all the terminals in combination -- impacts sure to be massive should all four go forward.

The people of the Pacific Northwest and B.C. deserve an area-wide environmental impact statement, called an EIS, so we can understand how our lives, and the environment we depend on, will change. It's that simple.

Here's the problem: broad-scale combined impacts that affect the entire region, along with the specific local impacts to communities along 1,100 miles of rail will never be considered by the regulating agencies if each terminal is reviewed in its own vacuum. But this is exactly what SSA Marine (the project's proponent) wants. And they're pouring hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars into public relations campaigns to make sure it happens.

Read more here:

If this were the right idea, would it cost so much to sell it to us?

At RE Sources, we believe that projects that have the potential to affect an entire region must be looked at regionally; in the context of all their impacts and alongside all of the similar proposals, no matter what promises are made in their glossy fliers.

SSA is on the record asking the agencies to limit the scope of the EIS to the 1,200 acres of beaches, forests and wetlands at Cherry Point. If SSA gets its way we won't see any assessment of the impacts that matter to all of us: Boulevard Park's closure to convenient access, years of coal discharge into the Columbia River, cumulative health and economic impacts of decades of 18 more trains a day through our communities, increased oil spill risk in the Salish Sea, the loss of tourism and fishing dollars and increased taxes for rail improvements.

For these reasons and more, we are joining with our partners in Power Past Coal to demand an area-wide environmental impact statement -- because it's the only way we can guarantee a good, clear look at the combined impacts these coal terminals would have on our lives and our communities.

Coal companies claim our call for an area-wide EIS is an attempt at obstruction -- the truth is, they're afraid of the public finding out the whole truth about the impacts the terminals will have on our lives and livelihoods. At RE Sources, we're doing all we can to advocate for a fair and honest process that provides the citizens of the Northwest with the tools to make informed decisions about what it would mean to become the fossil fuel corridor to the world.

Join us and lend your voice to this growing public insistence that our health, our economy and our environment should matter.


Crina Hoyer is the Executive Director of RE Sources for Sustainable Communities in Bellingham. RE Sources promotes sustainable communities and the health of local people and ecosystems through science, education, advocacy and action. More information, along with a link to the petition calling for an area-wide EIS, can be found online at

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