The message was loud and clear last night: the Washington State Department of Ecology's study on oil shipment through the state does not adequately address the enormous risks to our cities, towns, rural communities, tribal lands, rivers, wildlife, Puget Sound, or the people of Washington State.
More than 700 people showed up, and 300 signed up to speak including many who arrived by bus from Seattle and Vancouver. With two minutes at the microphone--speakers shared their concerns about the study, the rapid growth in oil shipment through Washington, the Bakken Blast Zone, the woefully underfunded oil spill prevention and response measures, the inevitability of oil-tank explosions and spills....and the permanent damage to the natural and human environments.
Olympia's Nisqually, Quinault, and Makah tribal communities were well represented and well spoken as were Olympia's elected officials--Mayor Buxbaum, Councilmember Nathaniel Jones (particularly eloquent), Thurston County Commissioners Karen Valenzuela, Sandra Romero, and Cathy Wolfe as well as PUD Commissioner Chris Stearns. Elected officials from Bellingham, Hood River, Vancouver, and Grays Harbor and members of the "general public" spoke out--including several physicians and health-care workers, local business leaders, representative of religious communities, and one ten-year-old girl who stood on a chair to deliver her powerful comments on behalf of her generation.
In addition to the refrain, "We Can Do Better," some memorable lines from various speakers:
"The lifeblood of our community is water, not oil."
"More studies will not change the topography of our marine waters."
"Oil transport is great fro big business, but it stinks for local businesses."
"We take the risk, they [corporations] take the profits."
"This is a moral issue."
"Why is there no urgent political will to stand up to Big Oil?"
"The word 'ecology' is never used in the report to describe the environment, only the Department."
"You can fool politicians, but you can't fool physics."
"Oil spills cannot be mitigated."
The Department of Ecology website features most everything you might need to know about their study here, where you can also provide public comment before the December 1 deadline.
Read The Olympian story here.