Five Good Reasons for No Deal at Cherry Point
Negotiations to modify a settlement agreement regarding a proposed bulk commodity export facility at Cherry Point ended because there was no agreement on measures to protect Puget Sound and Cherry Point herring. See 8/1/11 news release. Here are five reasons for no deal:
- Despite good faith efforts, we could reach no agreement we felt would ensure protection of Puget Sound and Cherry Point herring.
- Over the past 12 years, project proponent SSA Marine has repeatedly failed to follow through on monitoring and evaluation obligations and we have serious doubts about their commitment to protecting Puget Sound under any new agreement.
- The original agreement was for a 8.2 million metric ton bulk commodity export facility, not the new proposal of a 54 million metric ton facility-- a seven-fold increase of tonnage and vessel traffic.
- The new proposed terminal would primarily export coal and that raises serious concerns about impacts on public health, Puget Sound and climate change.
- It would be irresponsible to gamble Whatcom County's clean air, water, and community healthy on vague promises form SSA Marine.
Do you have more reasons to add?
8/2/11: SSA Marine has a credibility problem when it comes to explaining why they could not come to agreement. We don't.
Essentially, we had a deadline for ending talks, SSA was diluting, rather than strengthening protections, so we were unable to come to an updated agreement.
The renegotiation failed for several reasons, few of which are addressed in SSA Marine’s statement. The environmental groups were unwilling to allow SSA Marine to dilute its existing commitments under the 1999 Agreement to protect Cherry Point herring and Puget Sound, particularly in light of the severe decline in the health of the herring in the past decade and the massive expansion of the proposed export facility.
In over a year of negotiations, SSA Marine failed to address many of the concerns of the environmental groups, which were made clear in a letter sent to the company and the state agencies on Friday, July 29. Several substantive disagreements led to the failure of negotiations, including (1) the scope of protections for the herring population if monitoring shows that operations at the facility are adversely impacting the resource; (2) measures to ensure that SSA fulfills its obligations to control ballast water discharges from ships using the facility; and (3) measures to ensure that construction is conducted in a timely manner and follows current scientific information.
Because we could not reach agreement on these issues by the mutually agreed deadline of July 31, the existing settlement agreement remains in place and binding on the parties, including the stringent herring mitigation and ballast water controls that SSA Marine sought to modify through the renegotiation effort. The environmental groups remain committed to ensuring that any new permitting process for the facility incorporates all conditions necessary to protect Cherry Point herring and Puget Sound.
Anything more to add?