Centralia Hearing for Proposed Grays Harbor Oil Terminals

About 30 people traveled by bus from Thurston County to Centralia, to attend a hearing about proposed oil export terminals in Grays Harbor. Many speakers were from affected rail corridor areas. Comments to the EIS Scoping were wide and most major issues were covered. About 150 people attended the hearing. Here's video, 3 hours, 14 minutes:

Petition the Port of Olympia to Stop Partaking in the Fracking Business

Three major explosions in the past few months have been linked to oil trains carrying frack oil from North Dakota. The shipments of proppants going through the Port of Olympia have been supporting that very same fracking industry — which is destructive and which contributes to the climate crisis. Besides the explosions, one of which killed 47 people—the explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec [1]—the industry has been implicated in wide ranging array of grievous social and environmental harms [2] [3].

News comes out about fracking related water pollution almost daily now [4]. Fracking is an extreme extraction technology that really does nothing to solve the energy crisis. In fact, it conflicts with the need for urgent transition to options for sustainable renewable energy.

Why does any one person or group of people, own and control the right to abuse the land and environment any more than another person? Why are the owners of the petroleum industry so enriched at the expense of others? Is it possible that there is a basic corruption at hand? Is it possible that fracking is actually a boondoggle, counterproductive to human progress?

So I ask you please, sign this petition. Here is the web url: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/port-of-olympia-stop.

Thank you, and best wishes for 2014!

Robert Whitlock
Olympia, Washington

Congressman Denny Heck at Olympia Farmers Market

Congressman Denny Heck Olympia September 2013
Olympia Farmers Market, 5 September 2013—Congressman Denny Heck met with a throng of consituents; in the above photo, he listened to Christine Hartman's urging against using the military for strikes in Syria.

Works in Progress

Local Power, Sustainability, and Democracy

Campaign for Local Power —The above video tells some of the story of the recent successful electrical municipalization effort in Boulder Colorado. It also says that the power company, Excel energy, is mounting an election campaign to challenge the successful grass roots effort (they were outspent 10 to 1 — similar to what happened here in Thurston with the Public Power Initiative.)

So what do you think? Do you like the idea of clean, sustainable, renewable supplies of power? You know, PSE uses coal to generate about 1/3 of electricity supplied to the Puget Sound region, yes it's true. And much of that coal fired electricity comes from a coal plant all the way over in Eastern Montana, from a company town called Colstrip, which was built around and along with the coal plant. I traveled there and visited briefly in late July, and this is some of what I saw:

High Voltage Lines from Colstrip Montana Electrical Generator
Here are high voltage transmission lines on the way out of Colstrip. The lines are owned and operated by the Federal Public BPA (Bonneville Power Administration.)

Here's a panorama shot of the scene from the roadway before the plant:
Colstrip 9 image composite
The Colstrip Montana Electric Generating Station. See more photos from July 2013 here (and a larger size version is posted here, below the fold.) Also, a 1986 book by David T. Hanson, features a great collection of photos of the power plant and surrounding areas. It's available on the Internet. And the Sierra Club has a group dedicated to specifically working on this issue to break PSE's dirty coal habit, that website: Coal Free PSE.

State of the State Budget and What To Do

Lack of budget, furloughs and lay-offs for the working class...meanwhile the richest have never been richer.

Is it possible that here we have corruption to blame? Systemic corruption in the form of special influence for money, (much of it ill-begotten and based in violent practices, environmentally destructive industries, exploitative labor practices, etc.) Perhaps?

...Meanwhile, beautiful sunsets abound. Those of us with sufficient privilege travel, enjoy recreation, maybe even find some sense of peace and/or solace in the beauty of nature, hobbies, music, photography...what have you.

And then there are all of those (by some measures, more than 2 billion people) who have been not able to enjoy such experiences, because of distresses caused by poverty (and who are also, arguably, in some ways, happier than those of us in the "first world.")

This system we call "ours" enforces poverty. Tremendously extreme wealth for a tiny fractional few depends on the extraction of wealth from the great many. The present system depends upon poverty.

West Bay Drive Scenery

Inspired by CIA Guy's post about Westbay Drive:

State Capitol Campus Legislative Building Dome with 4th Avenue bridge in foreground
State Capitol Campus Legislative Building Dome with 4th Avenue bridge in foreground

Loaded Log Carrier at Port of Olympia Marine Terminal
Loaded Log Carrier at Port of Olympia Marine Terminal

Deforestation plays a significant role in global warming (Internet Search).

Silver Lake Alongside Port of Olympia Marine Terminal Pier
Silver Lake Alongside Port of Olympia Marine Terminal Pier

See large size (5586x1040) version below the fold.

Sunday 9 June 2013, 180º panorama, from West Bay Rotary Park, including view of State Capitol Temple of Justice and Legislative Building Dome, and Port of Olympia with MV Silver Lake, mostly loaded log carrier ship alongside Marine Terminal pier.

Kayaking on the Bay: "just say no" to the fossil fuel industry

Olympia Confronting the Climate Crisis held a few events over the weekend, ranging from tabling at the Olympia Farmers Market (we'll be there again next Saturday, the 25th,) to holding a forum at the Olympia Center about oil trains (more info here,) to a truly glorious day of Kayaking on the Bay. That event was co-organized by the Olympia F.O.R. Confronting the Climate Crisis project, and the Backbone Campaign, as well as with participation from Idle No More Washington, Seattle. Thanks to Dean Hobbs of O3C, Bill Moyer of Backbone Campaign, and Sweetwater Nannauck of Idle No More, as well as a host of others for organizing and attending this event.

Here is a link to some photos by Rob "Berd" Whitlock, and a link to the Facebook event page where you can find more information, photos and video from the event. Stay tuned for event video to see some more of the sights and sounds of the citizen's flotilla of kayaks.

White Coral Weyerhauser Company Log Carrier Ship photographic composite image by Robert F. W. Whitlock OlyBlog.net

Olympia Grays Harbor Oil Train Hydro-Fracking Connection

Deep below the surface of the Earth, bedrock is being fractured, using chemicals, explosives, and high pressure fluids. The Hydraulic Fracturing industry has seen a boom over the past several years, all over the lower 48, there are fossil fuel deposits deep below the Earth, embedded in layers of shale (sedimentary deposits that have formed rock.)

Washington State does not have shale formations (nor do Oregon or California.) However, we are not as removed as we might be from this booming development in the fracturing of the Earth's crust. For oil is coming here. Oil has been arriving from the Bakken oil shale formation by train. Information suggests that oil has been coming to Anacortes and Tacoma, and new facilities have been proposed elsewhere, in SW Washington, Grays Harbor, and Vancouver, WA.

More over, Olympia is directly implicated in this effort, because the Port of Olympia has been receiving shipments of ceramic proppants. Proppants are a material that enables fracking by propping up the Earth, allowing for the oil and gas to escape.

Earlier this week, a group of Olympians traveled to Grays Harbor, to join a protest against a proposed oil train terminal. Supporters hope to have a major CBR (Crude by Rail) oil export facility built and operating there by 2014.

PSE Massive Dump of Campaign Spending

PSE’s campaign has distinguished itself, not only for the sheer brazenness of its misinformation, but also by its unprecedented spending.

Prior to this campaign, the most expensive ever run in Thurston County was Kevin O’Sullivan’s failed bid for a County Commission seat. He spent around $110,000. PSE’s front group, the Alliance to Protect Thurston Power (APTP), will have spent more than five times that amount be election day.

PDC reports as of Oct. 18 show that APTP has amassed a warchest of $538,877, and has already spent well over $400,000 of that. (PDC reports here and here.)

PSE itself has provided the bulk of that money, with smaller amounts donated by other for-profit utilities in the state, and an affiliated business group.

Not one dollar has been contributed by a human being, and not one dollar has come from any person or group in Thurston County.

Voters must ask themselves: Is our democracy for sale? Can we afford to allow any corporation to have this much influence on our local political system?

A Grays Harbor PUD Commissioner back in the 1950′s was interviewed about the effects of bringing public power to that county. His answer surprised the interviewer. He didn’t cite lower rates or better service or local control as the biggest effect. He said the most important effect was “getting those S.O.B.s out of our local politics,” so they could no longer buy city councils, county commissioners or local legislators.

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