Part 1: Host Kris Halterman interviews Krystal Garmon and Mike Hudson, about the needs of the mentally ill in Bellingham/Whatcom County and a new service available to all Whatcom County residents; the Compass Health – Crisis Prevention and Intervention Team.
Part 2: Host Kris Halterman interviews Tony Larson about the importance of public participation in the 2016 Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan update, and the actions of RE Sources and the Lummi Nation to implement a moratorium on fossil fuel exports and industry expansion at the Cherry Point Industrial sites.Quoted from Cascadia Weekly’s Community Posting by, Matt Petryni, January 20, 2016
The comprehensive plan update is an opportunity to protect productive farmlands and beautiful forests from the destruction wrought by urban sprawl. Land is finite and we are in a position to use this resource well as long as we plan for the growth we are expecting. While it may not line the pockets of the real estate speculators that brought about America’s housing crisis, restricting the expansion of urban growth areas will serve the interests of the public and future generations.
And then, there are fossil fuels. The fact that Whacom County is the prime location for exporting the continent’s coal and oil reserves has emerged as a central consideration in this year’s update. This process happens only once every eight years, so it is crucial that we get it right.
The Lummi Nation has made what most of our community would now regard as a reasonable request: that we no longer plan to be the keystone waypoint in the arc of dirty energy sources traveling from mines and fracking operations that pollute the water to power plants that poison the air. They have asked that the county’s deep water port, Cherry Point, which is also their ancestral homeland, Xwe’chi’eXen, be removed from consideration as North America’s largest coal and oil port.
Some debate whether our local government is even allowed at this time to take up this question. In reality, the people of this county have not only the right but also the responsibility to speak out about issues of concern to their elected government; and our representatives have the responsibility to listen and to make our voices part of the public record. The notion that the quasi-judicial process somehow puts our decision-makers beyond the reach of the public is both legally absurd and morally irresponsible.
We have a responsibility to be active in this process to ensure it represents the values of the people who call Whatcom County home. Developers, dirty industry, and property rights extremists have all had their say—both in this plan and those that came before it. Those of us who understand the importance of keeping our air clean and our water healthy must now stand up and make our voices heard. We must seize this responsibility and use what we’ve learned to inform a better plan for tomorrow—one where our community moves toward carbon neutrality and the well-paying, clean energy jobs of the 21st century.
Matt Petryni is the Clean Energy Program Manager for RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, a local conservation non-profit with over 20,000 members, mostly in Whatcom County, that was founded as Bellingham Community Recycling in 1982.Show Outline Petryni Letter