Letters to the Editor for Dec. 11, 2012

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Port is a model of local government

Heather Acheson’s Dec. 4 editorial, “Leaders are taking the port in the right direction,” very correctly highlights the recent positive accomplishments of our Port of Camas-Washougal. However, when she says, “this group of leaders has made great strides on behalf of the port in recent years,” she definitely understates the reality.

Under the previous commission, the Port had made decisions that put them at odds with their constituents. Their efforts seemed to benefit no one except attorneys, and the voters knew it was time for a change.

The current slate of commissioners has only been in place for three years, but in this short time our Port has become a model of local government. This is a remarkable turn-around, and the local and statewide recognition they are receiving is very well deserved.

Ms. Acheson correctly notes that some of the Port’s current efforts “will still take years to come to fruition. When finally complete, the faces on the commission may be different but it is this group today that has set the stage for future success.”

This statement recognizes the true impact of the Port’s current efforts, but I expect that we will see the same three faces on the commission for several years to come. Commissioner Bill Ward was just re-elected last year. The first terms of Commissioners Bill Macrae-Smith and Mark Lampton are up at the end of next year. I am sure the wise voters of the Camas-Washougal Port District will keep them both at the helm of the Port for another four years, not just to see some of their current efforts come to fruition, but to steer the Port even more solidly in the right direction.

Richard Hamby, Washougal

Join the opposition to local coal transport

What would it have to take? How bad would it have to get, before we stand up to defend what we love?

Locally, resistance continues to grow in opposition to the plans by the Australian corporation, Ambre Energy, to export coal to Asia through our community.

The outlandish proposal is to move 3.5 million metric tons of dirty coal by barge, from the strip mines in Wyoming and Montana, down the Columbia River to a terminal in St. Helens.

Few should have to speculate as to the massive destruction this would leave on our community and planet. Studies have already shown the traces of Asian coal on the land and in the water of the Northwest.

Can you imagine the increase in Mercury, a neurotoxin, in our local rivers and the impacts on our health, exacerbating asthma and heart disease? Even the environmental assessment commissioned by Ambre admits the project would likely have negative impacts on our salmon runs.

As corporations like Ambre, continue to threaten and block serious reform and regulation, in their relentless quest for short-term profits, it leaves citizens with few alternatives. I would not be surprised if more radical forms of activism, including direct actions against infrastructure occur.

We can no longer wait passively. We fight on behalf of the earth and our children and grandchildren. Join the opposition at the public hearing at Clark College on Dec. 12 at 4 p.m.

Travis London, Washougal

Coal exporting will create jobs

Pacific Northwest has been one of America’s strongest regional trade economies. In the recession, however, our trade economy has suffered, both from increased competition from other ports and decreased demand overseas.

Too often skilled workers have been forced to move elsewhere to find jobs that can put food on the table for their families. This is a problem, and a big part of the solution is to strengthen our region’s capacity to export bulk products.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen promotes the interests of our members, and for that reason we are in full support of the proposed coal export terminals in Oregon and Washington State.

If we don’t build the terminals here, we will be losing the opportunity to generate millions in tax revenue and spur the creation of much needed family-wage jobs.

With this in mind, our Local 758 is pushing back against those who believe that making a larger point about coal is more important than creating well-paying jobs.

There is a vigorous federal and local review process in place to ensure these terminals are built in a way that is both environmentally responsible and safe.

The proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal in Cherry Point, Washington, is currently undergoing such reviews, and the agencies involved are holding a series of meetings where the public can voice their support for the project. The next meeting is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m .on Wednesday, at Clark College, Gaiser Student Center in Vancouver.

The Gateway Pacific terminal will create approximately 3,500 to 4,400 new jobs during construction, and 300-400 permanent family wage jobs that will generate an estimated $74 million to $92 million in state and local revenues.

We encourage you to join us at the Vancouver meeting on Dec. 12, and show your support and get our people back to work.

Robert Hill, Washougal