A Coastal Community In Washington Contemplates Oil Terminals

A Quinault Indian Nation fishing boat comes in to unload its catch in Grays Harbor, not far from the locations of three proposed oil train-to-ship facilities. Ashley Ahearn/KUOW

A Quinault Indian Nation fishing boat comes in to unload its catch in Grays Harbor, not far from the locations of three proposed oil train-to-ship facilities.
Ashley Ahearn/KUOW

 

By Ahsley Ahearn, KUOW

 

HOQUIAM, Wash. — Grays Harbor, with its deep-water berths and fast access to Pacific Ocean shipping routes, has all the ingredients to be a world-class port.

In some respects, it already is. The Port of Grays Harbor once bustled with shipments of lumber from nearby forests. Next came cars, grains and biofuel. Now, local leaders are warming up to the idea of adding crude oil to the mix.

Roughly 3 billion gallons of crude move from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota into Washington state by rail each year. As oil companies look for the fastest and most cost-effective way to get their product to West Coast refineries, proposals for new oil facilities are popping up around the region.

Washington has five refineries. Four are already receiving oil by rail and the fifth is seeking a permit to do so as well. There are six proposed train-to-ship oil facilities in Washington and two operating on the Oregon side of the Columbia River.

Three of those facilities could be built in Grays Harbor. That could mean more than 700 ships and barges arriving and departing each year and eight oil trains, empty and full, traveling through Grays Harbor County each day.

The proposed facilities present the community with some hard questions about economic growth, environmental risk and quality of life.

Oil On The Move

Forty-five permanent jobs would be created at the proposed Imperium and Westway terminals, with 103 estimated jobs in rail and marine operations, according to a report from the terminal companies. Information on the potential job creation for the third, and largest, of the proposed terminals is not yet available. That terminal is backed by US Development Group. It is in the discussion phase, according to the State Department of Ecology.

“These are projects that will provide jobs and economic development and tax revenue for Grays Harbor,” said Paul Queary, spokesman for Westway and Imperium. “They will help support the existing refinery jobs elsewhere in Washington and they will bring domestically produced oil to U.S. refineries and help maintain and increase U.S. energy independence.”

Imperium and Westway plan to move North Dakota crude on to refineries on the West Coast. U.S. law prohibits the export of domestically-produced crude oil. However, there’s no such restriction on exporting crude brought in from Canada. Canadian crude is already moving through the region  and more could travel through new terminals in the future.

Canadian oil producers are eager to find ways to ship their product beyond North America, suggests Tom Kluza, global head of energy analysis for Oil Price Information Service.

“Really the biggest losers in the oil price slide have been the Canadians,” he said. “They are compromised by their inability to move that to any customers beyond the U.S.”

Despite the recent drop in oil prices, Kluza said the development of infrastructure needed to serve the oil boom in the North American interior — ports, rail capacity and pipelines —  is lagging behind the rate of oil production.  Canadian and U.S. oil producers need access to refineries and terminals in the Northwest, and the regional refineries need access to their product, particularly as output from Alaskan oil fields continues to decline.

“Whether [the Northwest is] the most hospitable is going to depend on the way the local communities and regulators look at the environmental consequences,” he said.

‘What’s a culture worth?’

Thousands of Dungeness crabs rustle and clack as they’re unloaded from the holds of fishing vessels at the Quinault Indian Nation’s docks in Westport, at the mouth of Grays Harbor.

 

Dungeness crab being unloaded at the Quinault Indian Nation docks in Westport, Washington. Almost a quarter of the  tribe is employed in the fishing industry.Dungeness crab being unloaded at the Quinault Indian Nation docks in Westport, Washington. Almost a quarter of the  tribe is employed in the fishing industry. Ashley Ahearn/KUOW

 

The Quinault reservation lies just north of Grays Harbor. Tribal members harvest crab and razor clams along the coast and catch salmon in the ocean and the Chehalis and Humptulips rivers. The tribe opposes the oil terminals. It says an oil spill from a ship or train could close shellfish beds or decimate fish populations. Almost a quarter of the tribe’s 2,900 members are employed in the fishing industry. Ed Johnstone, fishery policy spokesman for the tribe, says the value of that fishery to the Quinault is impossible to quantify.

“What’s a culture worth? What’s a history and tradition worth?” he asked. “You can’t put a number on it.”

 

The Quinault tribe says its treaty-protected  fishing rights are threatened by the risk of an oil spill. Its leaders say they’ll take legal action if necessary to protect the tribe’s fishery.

Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Indian Nation, says her tribe’s opposition isn’t just about the threat of an oil spill. The global burning of fossil fuels threatens the Quinault’s way of life, she said. Rising sea levels have forced the tribe to move part of its community inland. Last year the ocean broke through and flooded the lower village. The Olympic Mountain’ Anderson Glacier, which feeds the Quinault River, has almost disappeared.

 

A 1936 photo of Anderson Glacier, which feeds the Quinault River.A 1936 photo of Anderson Glacier, which feeds the Quinault River. Asahel Curtis

 

Anderson glacier in 2004. "Our glacier's gone," said Fawn Sharp, president of Quinault Nation.Anderson glacier in 2004. “Our glacier’s gone,” said Fawn Sharp, president of Quinault Nation. Matt Hoffman / Portland State University

“Each area and each region has, I believe, a sacred trust and a sacred duty,” Sharp said, standing beside tribal crabbers as they unloaded their catch. “When you are an elected official you need to make decisions that are based not only on the economics of a decision but the science, the culture, the history.”

 

 

Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Indian Nation, stands on the docks as tribal crabbers unload their catch. The tribe has vowed to fight the oil train-to-ship terminals  proposed for Grays Harbor.Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Indian Nation, stands on the docks as tribal crabbers unload their catch. The tribe has vowed to fight the oil train-to-ship terminals  proposed for Grays Harbor. Ashley Ahearn/KUOW

 

The Quinault and other area tribes have often been at odds with non-tribal fishermen. But the non-tribal fishing industry, which employs more than 1,000 people in the area, has joined  the tribes in opposing  the oil terminals.

‘If I hear one more time that this place has great potential, I’m going to puke’

The population of Grays Harbor County hovers around 70,000. Its working-class economy was built on the timber and fishing industries. But today the unemployment rate is higher than the national average. The percentage of residents with a college education lags below the state average.

More than 200 people lost their jobs when Harbor Paper in Hoquiam, Washington shut down in 2014.More than 200 people lost their jobs when Harbor Paper in Hoquiam, Washington shut down in 2014. Ashley Ahearn / KUOW

Al Carter has spent his entire life in Grays Harbor, working in the timber and manufacturing industries and serving as a county commissioner for eight years. He calls himself “an infrastructure guy” – always pushing for the things that make a community appealing to business development and economic growth.

“Sewer, water, roads, bridges, railroads, public safety, public transportation,” Carter counts out on his fingers. “Those are the things that make a community grow and if you build those things, then people will come to those places.”

Carter says it’s been a bumpy ride since the timber and paper industry here crashed. A few years ago the Port of Grays Harbor was courted by the coal industry to build an export terminal.

 

“If I hear one more time that this place has great potential, I’m going to puke,” Carter said, chuckling. “A new group of people come to town every year with a good idea, like, ‘Here’s what we should do!’ and my eyes roll back in my head. It’s like, ‘yeah, OK. Here’s your bucket and your shovel.’”

Carter’s not anti-oil or fossil fuels. He’s concerned about what hundreds of oil trains and ships each year will do to the identity of his community and its potential for future development.

“That much oil, all we’re going to be is an oil terminal. They’re going to dominate our landscape,” Carter said. “Nothing else is going to come here. Nobody else is going to want to come here. There won’t be any room for anything else.”

Quinault boats test new crab pot-monitoring system

Washington state biologists interested in tribal experiment with electronic technology

Pete Wilson, Quinault Indian Nation fisherman, demonstrates how crab pots are scanned using a sensor embedded in the pot float.DEBORAH L. PRESTON PHOTO

Pete Wilson, Quinault Indian Nation fisherman, demonstrates how crab pots are scanned using a sensor embedded in the pot float.
DEBORAH L. PRESTON PHOTO

By Katie Wilson, Chinook Observer

 

OLYMPIC PENINSULA — Many eyes have been on the Quinault Indian Nation as it tests technology that could help dramatically improve rule enforcement in Washington’s $62 million commercial crab fishery.

Three Quinault fishermen have been using an electronic crab pot monitoring system to track gear use. This entails placing quarter-coin-sized radio frequency tags in their crab pot buoys over the summer and since November. As the pots were pulled aboard, they scanned the buoys in front of a sensor: “Basically like you’re scanning groceries at the store,” said Quinault fisherman Pete Wilson, who was one of the three participants in the pilot program. The sensor transmitted the identification number and the GPS location to a computer.

With every pot registered to only one owner, fishery managers hope this will be a simple way to track boat activity and gear use.

“It would solve some pretty significant issues we face in the crab fishery,” said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish lead biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

As things stand currently, both tribal and non-tribal commercial crab fishermen looking to cheat the system and steal gear and crab can, for the most part, get away with it. Fishermen work at night and “guys that have no scruples come along and fish other guys’ gear,” Ayres said. “Unless someone is right there in the middle of the night and knows what’s going on, it’s almost impossible for us to make a case. …Because fishermen know we can’t do anything about it, they don’t necessarily report [incidents] to us.”

WDFW enforcement officers will hear about stolen gear from time to time, but the traps are in the ocean and the ocean is never still. Besides, whales tangle in pots, debris snags them, storms move them.

The Quinault Indian Nation is working with the non-profit EcoTrust Canada to process the data it collected. The pilot program ended in January. No final report or numbers have been made public yet though Joe Schumacker, QIN marine scientist, expects a report in March.

“If it works well, we’re hoping to have it on all fishing boats in the future and would love to see it used by the non-tribal fishermen as well,” Schumacker in an article in the Winter 2014/15 Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission News.

In an phone interview, he said it is something he has been pushing for the last decade. It is something fisheries in British Columbia have utilized and recently the idea seems to be gaining traction in the states, Schumacker said.

“I don’t think it’s all the way there,” Wilson said about the equipment in a phone interview Feb. 3. But he thinks it’s close.

“I’d say 90 percent of our guys are probably going to want this implemented,” he said. “There are one or two who’d probably prefer that it would not, for their own personal reasons.”

But he and the others don’t have anything to hide.

“I think it can only help,” he said.

 

Cost downside

 

For fishery managers like WDFW, the technology would mean wading through massive amounts of data, something they don’t currently have the staff for, Ayres said. And there is a daunting cost to fishermen.

“If it wasn’t slightly over $10,000, it would certainly eat up most of it,” Wilson said regarding the expense per boat.

Schumacker didn’t have a cost estimate yet, but said it would have to be well under $10,000 to be affordable to fishermen.

Cost is one reason that WDFW has yet to implement similar monitoring though it has examined the possibility before. With that kind of price tag, it’s a hard sell, Ayres said.

The benefit of the monitoring would primarily go to those in the industry, but since they would also have to bear the bulk of the cost, the technology won’t become mainstream unless the fishermen support it.

Still, Ayres said, “it’s something that’s slowly becoming more common in other situations in other states.”

In theory, as it gains traction elsewhere and becomes standard: “It gets better and slowly gets cheaper.”

But he thinks the department will see more support as younger, more tech-savvy fishermen enter the fleet.

“We’ve got fishermen who still don’t have answering machines and, God forbid, a cell phone or an e-mail address,” he said.

Even now, they are only just beginning to look at requiring an electronic log book instead of paper log books fishermen currently maintain.

Floods, Heavy Rains Take Toll at Quinault, Emergency Declaration Issued

Moclips Highway Flooding “Worst Ever Seen”

Source: Press Release Quinault Indian Nation

Road leading into Taholah, WA is covered with water making travel dangerous, Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, on the Quinault Indian Reservation. (Photo courtesy John Preston)

Road leading into Taholah, WA is covered with water making travel dangerous, Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, on the Quinault Indian Reservation. (Photo courtesy John Preston)

TAHOLAH, WA (1/5/15) – The Quinault Indian Nation has issued a Declaration of Emergency due to extreme rainfall over the past two days which has caused numerous landslides, culvert failures and washouts on the Quinault Reservation. The QIN Property Management Division has ordered an emergency inspection of all the Tribe’s buildings and infrastructure and major access roads into the Tribe have either been closed or are considered extremely hazardous, said QIN President Fawn Sharp.

“The Moclips Highway 109 Bridge near Quinault Village, a main access road to and from Nation has been washed out and closed. That is a major problem for the Tribe,” she said.

“The Moclips River flooding is the worst I’ve seen it. If it is bad as it looks, SR 109 could take days to repair. And if our own Moclips Highway needs major repairs we will have significant commuter problems,” said Sharp.

She added that the Moclips River is flowing over its banks one mile south of the Moclips Highway. For safety reasons SR 109 in Moclips has been closed. “The river has claimed at least two vehicles. One belonged to a Quinault elder and was left abandoned on the highway in the flood. An unknown number of other tribal members who live adjacent to the River were evacuated at midnight last night and are now taking refuge at the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino in Ocean Shores. This section of SR 109 is closed until further notice. SR 109 is very treacherous for motorists currently due to standing water and debris caused by the flooding,” she said.

According to sources in Queets the sewer treatment plant was compromised by the Queets River which overflowed its banks. It is unsure whether or not the sewer plant is non-operational or if the service road is damaged beyond repair at this time. This plant is being monitored closely by the Nation’s managers. This breach has not been verified at this time.

The Nation highly recommends that drivers stay away from the beaches as an alternative route. The surf is up and even at low tide beach driving is not safe.

Our very own Community Services Director, Michael Cardwell, is clearing storm drain covers. The Nation’s responders have been out in force, working hard at everything from clearing drains to evaluating damage, said Sharp. “We are very happy and relieved to report that, to our knowledge, there has been no loss of life or injury caused by this heavy rain and flooding,” she said.

Reports regarding landslides and flooding have come in from across the county, including closures at the Aberdeen Bluff on State Route 12, U.S. 101 at mile marker 73, US 101 S of Ocean Beach Road, State Route109 , the State Route 109 bypass, Wishkah Road at mile marker 6 and numerous streets in Aberdeen and Hoquiam.

Concerns remain high as tribal emergency personnel are on duty checking conditions, rendering aid where necessary and cooperating and coordinating with other jurisdictions. The deluge has also borne down on the Chehalis River where warmer weather is turning snow to rain in the mountains and a flood watch has been issued by the National Weather Service. Quinault Nation retains treaty protected rights on the Chehalis. There, as in many places, habitat modifications by various industries over the years have diminished the popular desire for watersheds to flood within their natural floodplains, and many of the fixes and proposed fixes only make matters worse, she said.

“The good news is that the rainfall is expected to diminish this evening and is not likely to return until Friday. But it is important for people to remain alert for potential slides, lingering flood dangers and infrastructure damage. Please, start this new year off safely,” said Sharp.
“I want to applaud the work done by those who have pitched in to help others during this time of need, particularly our Quinault staff members. They have been tireless and dedicated, a great example to everyone. That, too, is a great way to start the year 2015.”

Tribal leaders, Commissioner warn of oil train dangers

Washington’s people and environment potentially at risk

Press Release: Washington State Department of Natural Resources

OLYMPIA – Increased oil train traffic on Washington’s aging rail system puts the state’s people and ecosystems at risk, according to an opinion piece by ten tribal leaders and the Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, published today in the Seattle Times.

“Crude By Rail: Too Much, Too Soon” calls for federal regulators to improve safety protocols and equipment standards on Washington rail lines to deal with a forty-fold increase in oil train traffic since 2008. Trains carrying crude oil are highly combustible and, if derailed, present serious threats to public safety and environmental health.

Tim Ballew II, chairman of the Lummi Nation; Jim Boyd, chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation; Brian “Spee~Pots” Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community; William B. Iyall, chairman of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe; Maria Lopez, chairwoman of the Hoh Indian Tribe; David Lopeman, chairman of the Squaxin Island Tribe; Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Indian Nation; Charles Woodruff, chairman of the Quileute Tribe; Herman Williams Sr., chairman of the Tulalip Tribes; and Gary Burke, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation joined Commissioner Goldmark in urging policymakers to address critical issues around the increase of oil train traffic through the state.

“The Northwest has suffered from a pollution-based economy,” said Cladoosby in a statement. “We are the first peoples of this great region, and it is our responsibility to ensure that our ancestral fishing, hunting and gathering grounds are not reduced to a glorified highway for industry. Our great teacher, Billy Frank, Jr., taught us that we are the voices of the Salish Sea and salmon, and we must speak to protect them. If we cannot restore the health of the region from past and present pollution, how can we possibly think we can restore and pay for the impact of this new and unknown resource?

“We are invested in a healthy economy, but not an economy that will destroy our way of life. We will not profit from this new industry, but rather, we as citizens of the Northwest will pay, one way or another, for the mess it will leave behind in our backyard. We will stand with Commissioner Goldmark and our fellow citizens and do what we need so those who call this great state home will live a healthy, safe and prosperous life,” said Cladoosby.

“Good public policy demands that we make informed decisions using information based on the best science and perspective that must include cultural values and traditional knowledge,” said Quinault President Fawn Sharp. According to her statement, the Quinault Tribe is leading a movement against three oil terminals in Grays Harbor and most recently joined more than 700 Washington state citizens to testify at an October hearing held by the Department of Ecology.

“The Quinault are national leaders of long-standing in natural resources protection and strive to protect the oceans and waterways across the Northwest,” said Sharp.

For Tulalip Chairman Herman Williams, Sr., endangerment of fish runs by oil train pollution is a key concern.

“For generations we have witnessed the destruction of our way of life, our fishing areas, and the resources we hold dear,” said Williams in a statement. “The Boldt decision very clearly interpreted the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott to reserve 50 percent of the salmon and management to the tribes. The federal government must now partner with tribes to protect the 50 percent of what remains of our fishing rights. The Tulalip Tribes will not allow our children’s future to be taken away for a dollar today. Our treaty rights are not for sale,” said Williams.

According to Commissioner Goldmark, tribal leadership on the oil train issue is essential.

“Tribal leaders bring unique perspective and concern about threats to our treasured landscapes,” said Goldmark. “It’s an honor to join them in this important message about the growth of oil train traffic in our state and the threat it poses to public safety, environmental sustainability, and our quality of life.”

Tribal Fishing Rights Cases Hit the 9th Circuit

By June Williams, Courthouse News Service

SEATTLE (CN) – Native American tribes fighting over fishing rights in Washington asked the 9th Circuit to intervene in separate proceedings last week.
The cases stems from a 1974 injunction by U.S. District Judge George Hugo Bolt in U.S. v. Washington that affirmed certain tribal fishing rights the state had been denying.
Among numerous subproceedings, the Tulalip back in 2005 requested a permanent injunction to prevent the Suquamish from fishing in waters outside their usual and accustomed, or U & A, grounds, an area determined by the 9th Circuit in 1990. The Suquamish were accused in that case of fishing on the east side of Puget Sound, in violation of court order.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez last year clarified “the geographic scope” of the Suquamish fishing grounds in Bolt’s decision. He said Bolt “relied heavily” on the reports of anthropologist Dr. Barbara Lane, who testified about various tribes’ traditional fishing areas in the 1974 case.
Martinez said it was “nearly certain” Bolt intended to include Possession Sound and waters at the mouth of the Snohomish River in the Suquamish U & A.
“On the other hand, there is an absence of evidence in her [Lane’s] report regarding Suquamish fishing in the waters on the eastern side of Whidbey Island such as Skagit Bay, Saratoga Passage and its connecting bays Penn Cove and Holmes Harbor, and Port Susan,” the July 29, 2013, ruling says. “Therefore the court finds that Judge Boldt did not intend to include these areas in the Suquamish U&A.”
The Tulalip appealed the decision to the 9th Circuit. After a three-judge panel’s Aug. 8 hearing in the Tulalip dispute, it heard the appeal by the Quileute and Quinault tribes of a similar decision by favoring the Makah tribe.
The Makah filed their Bolt subproceeding in 2009 to determine the boundaries of U & A fishing areas for the Quileute and Quinault tribes. The Ho tribe opposed the Makah’s motion as an interested party. In the complaint, the Makah argued the tribes intend to harvest Pacific whiting outside their traditional fishing grounds, which would affect the Makah’s catch. Pacific whiting travel from south to north, so the Quileute and Quinault would harvest the fish before the Makah.
Martinez let the case to proceed to trial by granting the Makah partial summary judgment last year. The Quileute and Quinault objected, arguing they waived sovereign immunity in the 1974 case only for determining their fishing rights in Washington. They claimed the court did not have authority over waters outside the 3-mile limit from the shore.
Martinez found that “incorrect” on July 8, 2013, saying the court’s jurisdiction extends to all treaty-based fishing and not limited to Washington waters.
The Quinault and Quileute’s claims of sovereign immunity also failed.
“The tribes came to Court in 1970 asking the court to determine and enforce their treaty rights, and they subjected themselves to the court’s jurisdiction for all purposes relating to the exercise of their treaty rights,” he wrote. “The Quinault and Quileute objections to the Makah motion for partial summary judgment on jurisdiction are thus without merit.”
Ho intervened in the appeals by both tribes.
With the 9th Circuit hearing the Tulalip case first Wednesday, Mason Morisset, representing the Tulalip, said Judge Bolt never “called out the specific waters we’re dealing with here.”
The lower court erred in finding the Suquamish regularly fished the east side of Whidbey Island in the past, he added.
Although the Suquamish fishing grounds extended north to Canad’s Fraser River, the tribe “would have to go out of their way” to fish on eastern Whidbey Island, Morisset said.
“In this case, there’s no evidence that the Suquamish went out of their way,” he said.
Judge Consuelo Callahan asked Morisset about the findings by an anthropologist that the Suquamish “traveled widely in the Puget Sound area.”
Morisett said this was true of “all the tribes,” and “it’s not evidence to make a general statement.”
The Suquamish may have traveled to the eastern parts of Whidbey Island and done some fishing, “but that doesn’t rise to the level of a usual and accustomed fishing place,” the attorney added.
Though Morisset called it “very telling” that the Suquamish did not contest Judge Bolt’s definition of their territory for 30 years, Callahan said “that doesn’t negate that they may have a right to do it.”
Howard Arnett, representing the Suquamish, said the tribe regularly fished in East Puget Sound based on historical reports.
“The testimony is clear,” he said. “They went there often. They went there frequently and they fished along the way – enough to establish that the entire area is a U & A.”
The Quileute, Quinault and Ho tribes dispute the finding they waived sovereign immunity, their attorney, Lauren King, said. The tribes agreed to court determination of fishing rights only in Washington State waters, she added.
With Callahan asking why the court shouldn’t “rule here that if you’re in for a penny then you’re in for a pound,” King said it would contravene Supreme Court precedent. “The Supreme Court said if you’re in for a penny, you’re in for a penny,” King said.
Callahan countered that “every single one” of the fishing rights cases involved interpretation of the same treaty.
King did not get far with her explanation that the tribes waived sovereign immunity only for one part of the treaty involving Washington fishing rights.
“If it involved all things in the treaty, we’d be here talking about hunting, about making war on other tribes,” King said.
But Callahan said the tribes’ approach seems to be “we waive sovereign immunity piece by piece until we don’t like what a court does.”
The Makah, represented by Marc Slonim, repeated their position that sovereign immunity was not an issue.
“Sovereign immunity is not a defense as to how an issue will get decided,” Slonim said.
He argued that the determination of the Quileute and Quinault traditional fishing grounds is “no different” from all of the other tribal determinations under the original U.S. v Washington case.
Callahan asked if the subject matter of this case was “inextricably linked” with U.S. v Washington.
“Absolutely,” Slonim replied.
The heart of the original case was the determination of usual and accustomed fishing grounds, the attorney added.
“You have to know where usual and accustomed fishing grounds are to adjudicate the treaty rights,” Slonim said. “The United States has said explicitly that the place these issues should be resolved is in U.S. v. Washington.”
Washington Assistant Attorney General Joseph Panesko also weighed in on the tribes
claim of sovereign immunity, saying it was “patently false” to claim the state has no regulatory authority over the waters in dispute.
He called the tribes “disingenuous” for claiming they never waived immunity over the waters. He said if they succeed in arguing Judge Bolt’s decision doesn’t affect the ocean waters, the state wouldn’t be bound by an injunction in the case.
“The state would be cleared to start regulating all tribal harvests of crab and a few other resources that the state does manage beyond the three mile line,” Panesko said. “The state could require regulatory permits, impose excise taxes on fish that tribal members bring in from beyond that 3-mile line – ”
Laughter broke out in the courtroom as Callahan translated.
“You’re saying be careful what you ask for,” she said.
Judges Jay Bybee and Richard Paez joined on the panel.

Seattle Oil-Train Derailment Hits Close to Home for Quinault

Courtesy Dana Robinson Slote Seattle City Council via radio station KPLUNo one was hurt—this time. The first oil train derailment in Washington State happened under the Magnolia Bridge.

Courtesy Dana Robinson Slote Seattle City Council via radio station KPLU
No one was hurt—this time. The first oil train derailment in Washington State happened under the Magnolia Bridge.

 

Indian Country Today, 7/25/14

 

Spills. Explosions. Deaths. Injuries.

The oil train that jumped the tracks outside Seattle the other day did not do any of those things, but it still highlighted concerns about rail transport of crude, especially highly flammable oil sands bitumen.

The 100-car train operated by Burlington Northern Railroad, filled with crude from the Bakken oil fields, was pulling out of the Interbay rail yard going five miles per hour when one locomotive, a buffer car carrying sand, and three tanker cars derailed at about 2 a.m. on July 24, the Associated Press reported. Two of the tankers tilted, one to a 45-degree angle, a railway spokesman told AP. That one had to be pumped out and hauled off for repairs.

As with the other half-dozen or so industrial-train derailments over the past year—starting with the runaway train that vaporized the center of 6,000-population Lac Mégantic in Quebec, Canada, along with 47 people last summer—the Quinault Indian Nation was on hand to warn about the perils of this type of transport.

RELATED: Exploded Quebec Oil Train Was Bringing Crude From North Dakota’s Bakken to New Brunswick Refineries

“It was sheer luck that the cars, carrying 100 loads of Bakken crude oil, didn’t spill or even catch fire,” Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp said in a statement. “If that had occurred the chances are there would have been tragic loss. If fire had occurred, the odds are it would have burned out of control for days, and oil would have made its way into Puget Sound. People need to know that every time an oil train travels by, this is the risk that is being taken.”

Tribes are not alone in their unease. Local officials also expressed consternation.

“I’m very concerned that large volatile oil trains pose significant risk for derailment, fire, explosion, loss of property and life,” King County Executive Dow Constantine told MyNorthwest.com. “We need to have a conversation about what is appropriate to ship through these heavily populated areas and what kind of notice people deserve that these shipments are taking place.”

The Quinault and other groups fiercely oppose proposals for oil train export terminals at Vancouver and Grays Harbor.

RELATED: Lynchburg Oil Train Explosion Refuels Rail-Terminal Opposition in Northwest

The May 2014 derailment of a grain train in Grays Harbor County did nothing to inspire confidence, either.

RELATED: Grain Car Derailment Could Have Been Oil: Quinault Raise Alarm Again

“These accidents have occurred before,” said Sharp, who is also president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and area vice president of the National Congress of American Indians, after the Seattle derailment. “They will occur again. Even with the new safety measures proposed by President [Barack] Obama and Governor [Jay] Inslee, the accidents will occur. The rail and bridge infrastructure in this country is far too inadequate to service the vast expansion of oil traffic we are witnessing.”

The railroad company’s assertion that there had been no public threat because no oil had escaped also came under scrutiny.

“I have to disagree with the statement that there was no public threat,” said Sharp in the Quinault statement. “There was. In fact, there is a public threat every time an oil train passes by. There have been too many accidents, too many derailments, too many fires and too many spills.”

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/07/25/seattle-oil-train-derailment-hits-close-home-quinault-156061

Remembering the 47/Honoring the Earth

 Source: Quinault Indian Nation

 

ABERDEEN,WA (6/26/14)– The Quinault Indian Nation, Citizens for a Clean Harbor, Grays Harbor Audubon Society, Friends of Grays Harbor and other concerned citizens will join together in a rally to “Honor Lac-Mégantic, Honor the Treaties and Honor the Earth” Sunday, July 6 at Aberdeen’s Zelasko Park. The public is invited.

“It’s no secret that we have been opposing the proposals by Westway, Imperium and U.S. Development corporations to build new oil terminals in our region, and the consequent massive increases in oil train and tanker traffic. But this event is intended to honor the 47 men, women and children who lost their lives in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, on the first anniversary of their death due to a tragic oil train explosion,” said Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation.

“The Tribe has made its position clear. Treaty-protected fishing rights and oil just do not mix,” said President Sharp. “We have to support sustainability in Grays Harbor, and that means protecting our environment. The fishing industry, tourism and all of the supportive businesses are far too important to let them wither away at the whim of Big Oil.”

The various sponsors of the July 6 rally also concur wholeheartedly that the rally is intended to honor the Earth. “This is what connects all of us here in Grays Harbor County. It’s what connected us with our brothers and sisters in Lac-Mégantic, too, and that’s why we honor their memory,” said President Sharp. “Chief Seattle is credited with saying that all things are connected. It is as true today as it was in his day. We all live on the same Earth, and we have got to work together to protect it for our children, and for future generations.”

The July 6 event will take place at Zelasko Park from noon to 7 pm. At various times during the day, the names of all 47 victims of the Lac-Mégantic oil train explosion will be read, as well as posted. There will also be rally signs, exhibited for the benefit of 4th of July week end traffic, music, food and other festivities. The public is encouraged to come, participate and enjoy.

For more information please email ProtectOurFuture@Quinault.org or “like”

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Three Tribes Win Coveted Washington State Environmental Education Awards

Northwest Indian Fisheries CommissionHabitat restoration efforts such as removal of the Elwha Dam, shown here in process on October 8, 2011, have helped bring back salmon spawning grounds.


Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission
Habitat restoration efforts such as removal of the Elwha Dam, shown here in process on October 8, 2011, have helped bring back salmon spawning grounds.

Indian Country Today

 

Three tribes are among the recipients of the Green Apple Awards given for environmental education initiatives by the not-for-profit group E3 Washington, a professional group that provides education on environmental development and stability.

The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, President Fawn Sharp of the Quinault Indian Nation and State Senator John McCoy of the Tulalip Tribes will receive awards, E3 announced on June 11. In addition, Billy Frank, Jr., Nisqually tribal elder and longtime chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, will be honored at a gala and awards ceremony to take place on June 26.

E3 is an outgrowth of the Environmental Education Association of Washington (EEAW), the state’s professional association for environmental and sustainability educators and stakeholders. The initiative was established in 2005, when the Governor’s Council on Environmental Education asked the association to take the lead in planning environmental education, according to the EEAW website. “E3” stands for education, environment, and economy. The EEAW is in turn affiliated with the North American Association for Environmental Education.

The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe was chosen to receive the President’s Award for both honoring elder wisdom and teaching youth self-respect, said retired teacher Marie Marrs, who nominated the tribe.

RELATED: Klallam Dictionary Helps Effort to Save Endangered Native Language

“The annual paddle journeys, alcohol and drug free, are strong signs of cultural revival,” Marrs said, according to the E3 statement. “The Klallam language is taught at local high schools, as a foreign language. Tribal leaders are visible, and honored, at many community events. Native youth are enrolled in natural resource programs at the area Skill Center, as well as Peninsula College, acquiring specials skills and internships with local economic and environmental power bases such as Battelle, Olympic National Park, NOAA, Merrill Ring, the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and the Feiro Marine Science Center, as well as their own natural resource/fisheries programs. Skill Center classes are co-taught with a tribal culture specialist as part of the team. Peninsula College has a Longhouse, a House of Learning, for special gatherings and ceremonies, the first in the nation to be built on a community college campus.”

Noting that the very aim of the E3 Washington Lead Green goal is to use every location as a teaching tool, E3 Washington board president Tom Hulst—who selected the Llower Elwha Klallam for the award—said that numerous sites managed by the tribe reach this ideal.

“The E3 Washington Lead Green goal is that every place, be it a building or other site becomes a ‘learning laboratory’ for the shift to sustainability,” Hulst said. “In the case of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe multiple sites under its management meets this goal!”

Sharp will accept the Green Apple Award, which recognizes awareness of indigenous knowledge, language and values, as well as encourages a multicultural approach to environmental and sustainability education, all while exemplifying E3’s Lead Green goal, according to the release.  Sharp, who is also president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and area vice president of the National Congress of American Indians, was nominated by Olympia-based businessman Steve Robinson.

“President Sharp is a very dynamic leader whose incredible energy level is matched only by her skill as a leader and her enthusiastic approach toward serving her people as well both Indian and non-Indian people, particularly in such fields as sustainability, environmental education and health and human rights,” Robinson said in his nomination. “She has long been active in environmental education at all levels, providing leadership in the classroom, the outdoors and the intergovernmental arena. Just one example of many major successes resulting from her leadership was last summer’s Paddle to Quinault—a highly successful canoe journey that brought traditional canoes from near and far to the Quinault homeland. It was a major cultural event enjoyed by thousands, and was a huge historic achievement in helping to build bridges of understanding between tribal and non-tribal communities.”

RELATED: 5 More Native American Visionaries in Washington State

For his part state Senator John McCoy, Democrat, will receive the 2014 Diversity in Action-Individual E3 Washington Green Apple Award, which “recognizes an individual, organization, tribe or program that demonstrates cultural awareness and encourages a multicultural approach to environmental and sustainability education programs while exemplifying the Lead Green goal,” the E3 statement said.

“Senator McCoy has been a tireless leader in many capacities which have served environmental education, multiculturalism and diversity well,” said Robinson, who nominated McCoy as well as Sharp. “His presence on ‘the hill’ in Olympia has provided an immeasurable amount of benefit to both tribal and non-tribal people and governments. He has sponsored phenomenal, far-reaching legislation, ranging from bills to integrate Indian culture and history into the classroom to a bill to establish Indian Heritage Day. Senator McCoy is one of the hardest working legislators in Olympia and he is committed to the protection and restoration of a healthy, vibrant environment for all.”

Frank, who passed away on May 5, was involved in E3 and will be honored at the awards ceremony, which will take place The awards will be presented at E3’s Summer Evening Awards Event 2014, A Summer Celebration of Environmental and Sustainability Education, on June 26.

RELATED: Billy Frank Jr., 1931-2014: ‘A Giant’ Will Be Missed

“Billy Frank, who was E3’s honorary co-chair, was a friend to, and tireless advocate for, all people and species,” said Ruskey. “His spirit lives in us and continues to guide us, as he always will.”

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/06/15/three-tribes-win-coveted-washington-state-environmental-education-awards-155312?page=0%2C1

Flathead Reservation in next phase of $1.9B land buy-back program

 

Elouise Cobell, right, looks on as Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes testifies in December 2009 during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, D.C. EVAN VUCCI/Associated Press

Elouise Cobell, right, looks on as Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes testifies in December 2009 during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, D.C.
EVAN VUCCI/Associated Press

HELENA – The Flathead Reservation is among 21 Indian reservations that will be the focus of the next phase of a $1.9 billion program to buy fractionated land parcels owned by multiple individuals and turn them over to tribal governments, Interior Department officials said Thursday.

Besides the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, other Montana participants are the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation; Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation; Crow Tribe; and the Fort Belknap Indian Community of the Fort Belknap Reservation of Montana.

Government officials will work with tribal leaders to plan, map, conduct mineral evaluations, make appraisals and acquire land on the reservations from Washington state to Oklahoma in this phase, which is expected to last through 2015.

Other reservations could be added to the list, but the 21 named Thursday meet the criteria, particularly tribal readiness, said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn.

“We knew it wouldn’t be successful unless tribal leaders were interested in the program,” Washburn said.

The land buyback program is part of a $3.4 billion settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed by Elouise Cobell of Browning, who died in 2011. The lawsuit claimed Interior Department officials mismanaged trust money held by the government for hundreds of thousands of Indian landowners.

The 1887 Dawes Act split tribal lands into individual allotments that were inherited by multiple heirs with each passing generation, resulting in some parcels across the nation being owned by dozens, hundreds or even thousands of individual Indians.

Often, that land sits without being developed or leased because approval is required from all the owners.

The land buyback program aims to consolidate as many parcels as possible by spending $1.9 billion by a 2022 deadline to purchase land from willing owners, then turn over that purchased land to the tribes to do as they see fit.

So far, the program has spent $61.2 million and restored 175,000 acres, said Interior Deputy Secretary Mike Connor. To buy even that much land, officials had to locate and contact owners in all 50 states and several countries to find out if they were willing to sell, Connor said.

The work primarily has been focused on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation until now.

Last month, tribal leaders from four reservations criticized the buyback program’s slow pace and complained they were being shut out of decisions over what land to buy. The leaders from tribes in Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington state spoke before a U.S. House panel.

Rep. Steve Daines, R-Montana, who called for the congressional hearing, said he welcomed Thursday’s announcement by the Interior Department.

“However, I am concerned their efforts here may not provide tribes with the necessary tools to ensure the Land Buy-Back program is properly implemented,” Daines said in a statement.

He said the Interior Department should use its authority to give tribes more flexibility, and it should move swiftly to address consolidation problems on other reservations not included in the announcement.

Washburn said Thursday that his agency has entered into or is negotiating cooperative agreements with many tribes in the buyback program, though others say they want the federal government to run the program.


21 reservations next up in consolidation program

These are the American Indian reservations the Department of Interior plans to focus on in the next phase of a $1.9 billion buyback program of fractionated land parcels to turn over to tribal governments. The program is part of a $3.4 billion settlement over mismanaged money held in trust by the U.S. government for individual Indian landowners.

– Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Montana.

– Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of the Cheyenne River Reservation, Wyoming.

– Coeur D’Alene Tribe of the Coeur D’Alene Reservation, Idaho.

– Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, Montana.

– Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, Oregon.

– Crow Tribe, Montana.

– Fort Belknap Indian Community of the Fort Belknap Reservation of Montana.

– Gila River Indian Community of the Gila River Indian Reservation, Arizona.

– Lummi Tribe of the Lummi Reservation, Washington.

– Makah Indian Tribe of the Makah Indian Reservation, Washington.

– Navajo Nation, Arizona.

– Northern Cheyenne Tribe of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, Montana.

– Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota.

– Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, Kansas.

– Quapaw Tribe of Indians, Oklahoma.

– Quinault Tribe of the Quinault Reservation, Washington.

– Rosebud Sioux Tribe of the Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota.

– Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation, North Dakota and South Dakota.

– Squaxin Island Tribe of the Squaxin Island Reservation, Washington.

– Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North Dakota and South Dakota.

– Swinomish Indians of the Swinomish Reservation, Washington.

9 Tribal Nations Taking a Direct Hit From Climate Change

Rich Pedroncelli/Associated PressThe dried-out bed of Lake Mendocino, California, in February 2014. The state is gripped in its worst drought in recorded history, and a new study has found that climate change is to blame.

Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press
The dried-out bed of Lake Mendocino, California, in February 2014. The state is gripped in its worst drought in recorded history, and a new study has found that climate change is to blame.

 

Terri Hansen, ICTMN

 

It is no secret that American Indian communities are at the forefront of climate change. From low-lying nations facing sea-level rise, to villages located on melting permafrost, to drought-plagued lands, these are some of the more dramatic examples of American Indian tribes that are taking a direct hit from extreme weather events likely linked to climate change. Although several tribes, including some on this list, are already adapting or laying out plans for the inevitable, this list highlights those that are seeing dramatic, tangible changes.

RELATED:  8 Tribes That Are Way Ahead of the Climate-Adaptation Curve

1. Hoh Tribe

The Hoh road to the beach has washed out, and the ocean has destroyed the homes that once lined their beach. In 2009, Hog tribal officials told a U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., that they face constant threats from floods and the Hoh River.

RELATED: Hoh Indians Head for Higher Ground

2. Quinault Indian Nation

Seaside villages up and down the Pacific coast are at risk, from rising sea levels. Some stark evidence of this came with the recent state of emergency declared by the Quinault Indian Nation. Earlier this year, its headquarters in Taholah faced an increasingly dangerous situation with sea level rise and intensified storms. The situation came to a head with the breach of a sea wall that caused serious damage.

RELATED: Quinault Nation Declares State of Emergency After Taholah Seawall Breach

Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp has since traveled to Washington, D.C. to lobby for more flood protection.

RELATED: Quinault President Fawn Sharp Heads to D.C. to Lobby for Flood Protections

Climate Change Is Real, Let’s Fight It Together

3. Quileute Tribe

The Quileute are squeezed on a sliver of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Olympic National Forest. Rising sea levels and a river’s changing course through the reservation has exacerbated not only fears of flooding, but also of what could happen if an earthquake occurred powerful enough to wreak the damage that was seen in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011. Just a couple of years ago a tribal school attended by 80 children was just a foot above sea level. A powerful storm surge threw car-sized wood trunks into their schoolyard. But now the Quileute are relocating an entire village.

RELATED: Haida Gwaii Quake Brings Home the Importance of Quileute Relocation Legislation

Quileute Is Moving to Higher Ground

4. Alaska Native Villages

Along Alaska’s northwestern coast, melting sea ice has reduced natural coastal protection. Increased coastal erosion is causing some shorelines to retreat at rates averaging tens of feet per year. In Shishmaref and Kivalina, Alaska, severe erosion has caused homes to collapse into the sea, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, forcing these Alaska Native Village populations to relocate in order to protect lives and property.

RELATED: BBC News Magazine Profiles Disappearing Kivalina, Alaska

Galena, Alaska Struggles to Rebuild After Yukon River Ice Jam Causes Devastating Flood

5. Navajo Nation

“Climate change is slowly tipping the balance in favor of more frequent, longer lasting, and more intense droughts,” states the 2013 Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwestern United States (SWCA). The Navajo Nation is a prime example, with a drought that pre-dates the one that has crippled parts of California. From runaway sand dunes, to dying horses, the Navajo Nation is suffering from a lack of water.

RELATED: Horses Dying as Navajo Nation Declares Drought Emergency

Navajo President Ben Shelly Signs $3 Million Drought Relief Bill

Drought Hits Navajo Nation Ranchers Hard

6. Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla

The Agua Caliente, hit last year by wildfires, got the double whammy after the charred remains of its Indian Canyons became prone to flash flooding, forcing their closure for several months.

RELATED: Agua Caliente Band Closes Indian Canyons Indefinitely After Flash Flooding

7. Biloxi-Chitimacha Tribe

Sea level rise is washing away the land of this small tribe in Louisiana. The Biloxi-Chitimacha moved to the Isle de Jean Charles on the Gulf Coast in the 1840s and made a way of life there. The island—along with the rest of Louisiana’s coastline—is disappearing into the Gulf of Mexico at a speed almost visible to the eye, reported Truthout in April.

“There was land on both sides of the bayou,” tribal member Chris Chaisson told Truthout. “Now, it’s just open sea.”

While the tribe faces a multitude of problems, sea level rise remains at the root of the tribe’s most pressing.

8. Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation

An April 2014 study by scientists at the Utah State University has linked this year’s California drought to global warming, the Associated Press reported. That brings us to two tribal nations that issued drought state of emergencies. The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation declared a drought emergency in April, calling upon its members to cut their water use by 20 percent.

Tribal chairman Marshall McKay put out a statement that said, “The drought threatens how we eat and drink everyday, how we manage our businesses, how we protect our environment and how we plan for our families’ futures.”

Related: Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation Declares Drought Emergency as California Water Shortage Continues

9. Hoopa Valley Tribe

The Hoopa Valley Tribe had declared a drought state of emergency two months before the Yocha Dehe, in February. The Hoopa began formulating a drought mitigation plan that would plan out water use for three to five years, with measures such as storing water from the mountains that is currently not being tapped, beefing up fire prevention initiatives and shoring up backup water systems.

Related: Hoopa Valley Tribe Declares Drought Emergency as California Dries Out

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/05/06/9-tribal-nations-taking-direct-hit-extreme-weather-154746?page=0%2C2