Letters to the Editor for June 7, 2016

Oil trains must be stopped

This last Friday morning I was at a Department of Ecology hearing in Vancouver speaking to the impossible task of making oil-train traffic ‘safe,’ a hearing that was still underway when news came of the oil train derailment, spill, and fire in Mosier.

As the roads closed and schoolchildren evacuated, that small gorge community became yet another statistic for the growing list of derailments, accidents, and fires that are the real consequences of transporting dirty and explosive fuels and chemicals by rail.

What is most frustrating to me is that none of this stuff is new or surprising. Those who testified before and after I did carefully laid out the real destruction we could expect. If the Fire Chief of Skamania County had spoken just three hours later, his words could have been used to describe the real ongoing problems that his fellows were dealing with in Mosier.

The point is that when it comes to oil trains, we know the reality of the risk. We have been talking about this for years. And what, today, do we tell the citizens of Mosier, some of whom cannot return to their homes, all of whom are now dealing with oil contamination, a derailed train, compromised train tracks, a dry aquifer, and a contaminated waste treatment facility.

Not to mention all the lives that were put at risk.

We were very lucky that this was such a small event. And yet, this was not a ‘small’ event! Lives impacted, schools evacuated, contaminated water, oil slicks, it all happened and it could all happen in any town along the gorge.

This is not at ‘accident’ in the sense that no one could have foreseen it coming. Thousands of people have spoken loudly and often about the dangers of the trains to our good and precious communities.

As a mom I used to joke about things my children did ‘by accident-on purpose.’ The reality is that we ‘on purpose’ persist in running oil trains through our neighborhoods. When you do this ‘on purpose’ you can expect derailments. How long will we persist in calling these events ‘accidents’?

When will we call out ‘on-purpose’ behaviors that put real people and real communities at risk?

I testified at that hearing to ask for the strictest measures of safety to be implemented. But I also testified that when it comes to oil train traffic, there is no such thing as ‘safe.’ The only safe measure is to stop those trains. We don’t need them and they provide no benefits. Money being invested in backward and dangerous fossil fuels needs to be redirected to create jobs and infrastructure for clean energy.

The Rev. Richenda Fairhurst, Pastor, Camas United Methodist Church

McDevitt will ‘work for all of us’

David McDevitt is a smart, hard working guy that can get things done.

He is a high level computer programmer that requires him to be someone that pays attention to detail.

His first paying job was as a delivery route boy for a newspaper. He was a problem-solver from the beginning, which he showed when he got all of the people on his route to pre-pay three months in advance so they didn’t lose their subscription. Now, every newspaper does that.

Attention to detail and problem solving are two things we need from our government. Not the politics of “no.” Not by continuing to siphon money from the middle class for the benefit of the billionaires that buy the Tea Party elections. Government shouldn’t be bought. That is why I endorse David McDevitt. David is a progressive Democrat that supports Bernie Sanders for president.

McDevitt has put in more time in the last six months to understanding and working to solve problems in the Washington Third Congressional District than Jaime Herrera Beutler has in the six years since she was first elected.

It’s obvious that things are not working well in Washington. It’s in the news every day.

Sending smart hard working people like McDevitt to Washington sounds like a refreshing change. For more information, visit http://mcdevittforcongress.com.

As Justin Trudeau said “We can do more for the people who need it, by doing less for the people who don’t.” We can do this together. Faster together. Farther together. Let’s send McDevitt to Washington because he works for all of us.

Thomas Gibson, Camas