Puget Sound Regional Council wrong on Gateway Terminal
Today, the Puget Sound Regional Council released a study evaluating the projected impact of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal on regional infrastructure. While the study acknowledges the significant economic benefits of the Gateway Pacific Terminal, its overall conclusions are simply not supported by the facts.
The greatly exaggerated "costs" projected in the study just don't add up. From wait times at crossings, to impacts on other industries, to the economic impacts of the project, the PSRC is wrong.
Here's what you need to know:
On train traffic: The volume of trains running in Washington is lower today than prior to the recession when rail volume reached its peak. While the Gateway Pacific terminal proposal will add nine loaded trains a day in King County by 2025, that volume is manageable when compared to the 60 or more trains that move through the area today. More important, it's comparable to past rail volumes that communities experienced without issue as recently as 2006.
On rail capacity: The study suggests that Gateway could impact rail capacity and the value of railways to other industries. And yet, the Washington Farm Bureau's own independent research concluded the Gateway Pacific Terminal will benefit Washington's agricultural shippers by lowering costs and expanding market opportunities. As the PSRC notes, agriculture is the largest user of rail today. The overwhelming support for Gateway from Washington's agriculture community underscores the regional economic benefits of the terminal.
Extent of economic benefits: The PSRC's claim that Gateway will primarily benefit Whatcom County doesn't tell the whole story. Gateway, in conjunction with two additional proposed bulk-commodity terminals serving coal, will provide $1.5 billion in new investment in trade capacity in our region that will benefit all trade industries. As one of the largest private-investment proposals in the region, the regional benefits of Gateway Pacific have been praised by the Washington State Farm Bureau, Association of Washington Business, and Washington State Labor Council, because of the substantial benefits to the statewide economy.
Study authors funded by opponents: One of the main study authors, PFM, has completed past work for Communitywise Bellingham, an advocacy organization opposed to the Gateway Pacific Project. This conflict of interests is not noted in the study.
The bottom line: Growth in our railroads and ports is not an economic cost. As the most trade dependent state in the nation, with 40% of all jobs in Washington tied to trade, growth is a sign of economic recovery and an opportunity to continue to expand our success as America's Gateway to Asia.
The broad labor, business, community, and agriculture members that support these projects through Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports membership speaks to the regional importance of Gateway and similar facilities.
Several area leaders responded to the study, in support of the Gateway Terminal today:
"The point is that dislike of a specific commodity or opposition to its transport should not be allowed to constrain or otherwise damage a rail transportation system critical to the Washington economy and its trade position. Many of the opponents of coal would not be stoking fears of rail congestion were almost any other commodity in play. In fact, many would be supporting increases in train traffic to rid our highways and cities of major congestion and air deterioration caused by car and trucks."
- Terry Finn, member of the Puget Sound Regional Council's Transportation Policy Board
"If our trade-dependent economy is going to generate more family wage jobs and if we're going to keep the jobs we have now, our state and the railroads need to invest in critical rail improvements."
- Commissioner Bill Bryant, representing Washington's ports on the Puget Sound Regional Council executive board.
Who Must Win Jobs v. Environment Debate in Whatcom County?
A Letter to Our Fellow Citizens,
From John Huntley (Mills Electric) and Brad Owens (NW Washington Building & Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO); Co-Chairs of the Northwest Jobs Alliance
Hardly a day passes when there isn't a news item describing the need for more and better jobs and a better environment, but the context too often seems to pit one against the other as if in a battle between good and evil. This is a false proposition, because a good quality of life requires both.
To promote reasoned, fact-based discussion of economic and job development prospects in Whatcom County, a few years ago business and labor leaders jointly formed the Northwest Jobs Alliance.
Our mission:Promote the growth of family-wage jobs in the context of sound environmental practice
In other words, we seek "Balanced Community Solutions."
Also in the past few years, there have been very strident and aggressive advocates of de-industrializing our economy, even threatening the high-wage jobs at the existing Cherry Point industries (which include two oil refineries and an aluminum smelter), to say nothing of the prospect of new industrial job growth.)
Here is an example of what these community activists are saying:
"...it is time to assess our Whatcom County industrial 'good neighbors and corporate citizens' with a more critical eye..."
"What should be occurring is a joint effort by the federal, state, and local governments, in consultation with the tribes, to consider whether any industrial activity at Cherry Point is appropriate or compatible with protecting that area."
Activist Lawyer Terry Wechsler, April 21 and 6, 2014 on NWCitizen.com
The livelihoods of thousands of families are at stake as well as future generations to come. Without the Cherry Point industrial job base, which was the result of decades of careful thought and planning, our community's economy and family income levels would be significantly weakened. And our schools and local cities would suffer from a decimated tax base and diminished services, along with an increased shift of the tax burden to homeowners. (Industry now carries much of the tax load.)
We reject the thinking that we can't have both economic prosperity and environmental quality.We must have both.
If you share our belief in striving for balance and would like to support Cherry Point jobs as part of the Northwest Jobs Alliance, please send your name and contact information to:
The Northwest Jobs Alliance promotes the growth of family-wage jobs in the context of sound environmental practice. Composed of a cross-section of the community, the Alliance will focus on supporting economic vitality and growth connected with the Cherry Point industrial area.