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Rage One (blog)

jueves, abril 12, 2012

70 Protesters Disrupt Congressman's Fundraiser with Coal Spokesman in Bellingham, WA

Ramy Khalil
(713) 458-0388

Bellingham, WA -- On April 10th, U.S. Representative Rick Larsen held a private re-election fundraiser with Craig Cole, spokesperson for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal, as the main guest of honor. By hosting the SSA Marine spokesman as his main guest at the fundraiser, Representative Larsen publicly displayed his support for the massive coal export terminal that SSA Marine and other corporations want to build in Whatcom County.

Over 70 community members showed up to protest the fundraiser to urge SSA, Congressman Larsen, and other politicians not to build North America's largest coal export terminal in Whatcom County. Most protesters held up signs along the roadway, with many cars honking in support.

Approximately 20 invited guests paid between $100 and $500 to be admitted to the fundraiser at the upscale wine tasting Masquerade Wine Company which served cheese and wine to the guests. Some protesters attempted to go inside the fundraiser to speak with Larsen and Cole, but doormen physically obstructed protesters . Only one person, Socialist Alternative organizer Ramy Khalil, was able to bypass the doormen.

Once inside, Khalil began reading out a statement of opposition to the coal terminal (attached to this email). Larsen ordered Khalil to leave and the doormen attempted multiple times to physically eject Khalil. However, as a Whatcom County tax-payer and voter, Khalil felt obligated to try to convince Larsen, Cole, and others to stop advocating for the coal terminal. Protesters felt they had no choice but to resort to such drastic action because approximately 1000 residents have attended every public hearing about the coal terminal to oppose it so far, and yet every politician is allowing the project to go ahead.

Larsen was visibly irritated by the disruption and rejected multiple requests relayed by police to come to the front door to speak with community members about their concerns. Larsen also rejected Khalil's request to participate in a public debate on the coal terminal in the future.

Larsen defended his support for the coal terminal by arguing that it would create jobs. However, Khalil and other protesters demanded alternative environmentally sustainable, high-paying union jobs that would benefit Whatcom County rather than harm it. Protesters argued that a better way to address the unemployment crisis was if Larsen and other politicians and companies would halt their budget cuts that have laid off thousands of workers. They also argued that the politicians could also launch public works programs that would create thousands of jobs by investing in education, health care, public transit, renewable energy, retrofitting buildings to be energy efficient, or accelerating the Bellingham waterfront redevelopment project. Revenues could be raised for these projects by taxing wealthy people and corporations.

One protester felt their message had been received, saying, "Politicians who support the coal terminal can expect more opposition like this from tax-payers. And it will definitely cost them votes in November."

SSA, Goldman Sachs, BNSF Railway, and Peabody Energy hope to profit from China's industrial growth by transporting up to 48 million tons of coal annually on trains from Wyoming and Montana and then shipping coal to China. SSA Marine is proposing that 18 trains, over a mile long each, pass through Whatcom County every day. However, coal is the leading contributor to the global warming crisis. Doctors, fisherman, farmers, and homeowners have also expressed opposition to coal dust and loud trains having a devastating impact on farms, businesses, air quality, water systems, public health, traffic, safety, and the waterfront redevelopment project, which casts serious doubt on claims about the economic benefits of the coal terminal.

Several of the guests spoke briefly with the activists as they exited the building, some of whom said they were also opposed to the coal terminal.

Democratic Congressman Larsen sent out an email on February 28, 2011 supporting the coal export terminal, stating "the Gateway Pacific Terminal will make US companies more competitive in the global market..."

1st video of the protest:

2nd video of the protest:

For photos, email:

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Coal Terminal Speech at Larsen Fundraiser

We feel we have no choice but to protest this fundraiser for Congressman Rick Larsen’s re-election campaign.

One of the main honorary guests at this fundraiser is Craig Cole, the main spokesman hired by SSA to try to convince the public to support its proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal.

By hosting the coal export terminal spokesman as the main celebrity at this fundraiser, our elected Representative is flagrantly publicizing his support for this coal export project.

However, it is well documented that coal is leading contributor to global warming.

All scientists, except the ones on the coal and oil companies’ payroll, agree that heating the globe will lead to more violent weather patterns, Hurricane Katrinas, tsunamis, melting of the icecaps, flooding of islands and coastal towns, desertification of agricultural lands, starvation, hunger, competition over resources, and war.

Yet Congressman Larsen has been an avid supporter of building North America’s largest coal export terminal right here in Whatcom Cty, where they plan to ship up to 48 mn tons of coal/year to China.

Congressman Larsen sent out an email on February 28, 2011 supporting the coal export terminal, stating "the Gateway Pacific Terminal will make U.S. companies more competitive in the global market..."

Apparently Congressman Larsen is more concerned about helping companies like SSA become more competitive, for their wealthy shareholders to enrich themselves, than the 18 mile long trains run through his constituent’s communities, spewing coal dust, destroying our air quality, water systems, health, farms, our economy, causing noise pollution and tying up traffic.

You, Craig Cole and Congressman Larsen, justify your support for this profit-driven project by claiming that the coal terminal will provide jobs.

However, an independent survey conducted by Community Wise Bham found that the coal terminal might cost our economy as many jobs as it will create.

Not surprisingly, the independent study found that much fewer jobs will be created compared to the study produced by economists hired by SSA.

Once again Corporate America is lying to ordinary people.

The companies and banks like Goldman Sachs behind this project claim their coal terminal will minimize environmental damage.
But we can’t trust anything you say.

The company you defend, SSA Marine, was caught last summer destroying wetlands to begin construction on the coal terminal illegally without the required permits before the environmental impact survey had even begun.

And we can’t trust Congressmen Larsen or the politicians from either Republican or the Democratic Parties, either.
All of the city, county, state, and federal politicians are currently allowing this proposed project to go ahead.

In fact, at least five of the politicians who may decide whether this project goes ahead received thousands of dollars directly from the corporations behind this project:

– Democratic Senator Patty Murray
– Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire
– Democratic Bellingham mayor Kelly Linville
– Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna
– Republican Senator Doug Ericksen.

In fact, Democratic Senator Patty Murray’s husband works for SSA Marine. As of 2004, his SSA Marine retirement investment fund was valued at up to half a million dollars!

You Democrats and the Republicans are completely compromised by your ties to the richest 1% of the population, and it is clear you will not wage the determined struggle we need to stop the terminal.

So yes we need jobs. We absolutely need jobs. But we don’t want your coal jobs that will drastically harm this county and the planet.

We are here to say that there are much better ways to create jobs.

1. Stop the layoffs, stop the budget cuts to education, healthcare that have led to thousands of layoffs.

When you have a budget deficit, rather than slashing budgets for education, healthcare, and jobs, tax the millionaires, tax corporations.

Boeing, Extremely profit company, paid no federal income taxes last year. What an outrage!

Quit wasting money on costly, unwinable wars.

2. Create green union jobs as an alternative. Eg’s.

But you are not listening to the community.

Every time the community has had an opportunity to give input, we have shown overwhelming opposition.


But the whole Environmental Impact Survey process is designed to grant permits to corporations to exploit the environment.

That’s why we are going to collect signatures to pass a ballot initiative against the coal trains.

But SSA is claiming that the ballot initiative is illegal.

So no matter how the community tries to give imput, we are blocked at every angle.

So that is why we feel forced to disrupt these events because it is the only way for the community to get its voice heard.

We are going to record these protests and get them all over the news and the Internet.

Any politician who supports this terminal is going to face the wrath of the voters, tax-payers.

For more info, Thank you.

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