Army Corps Upholds Lummi Nation Treaty Rights, denies Coal Permit at Cherry Point

Army Corps Upholds Lummi Nation Treaty Rights, denies Coal Permit at Cherry Point
Empty and loaded Burlington Northern coal trains (photographer: Paul Anderson)

Monday, May 9, 2016

A major victory against coal export in the Pacific Northwest was scored today when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced its decision to deny Pacific International Terminals' application to build North America’s largest coal export terminal in the Lummi Nation’s treaty-protected fishing waters off Cherry Point.

Read the Lummi Nation's statement.

"This is a historic victory for treaty rights and the constitution," said Tim Ballew II, chairman of the Lummi Indian Business Council. "It is a historic victory for the Lummi Nation and our entire region. We are pleased to see that the Army Corps has honored the treaty and the constitution by providing a decision that recognizes the terminal’s impacts to our fishing rights. This decision is a win for the treaty and protects our sacred site. Our ancient ones at Xwe'chieXen, Cherry Point, will rest protected. Because of this decision, the water we rely on to feed our families, for our ceremonies and for commercial purposes remains protected.

"But this is more than a victory for our people; it’s a victory for treaty rights. Treaty rights shape our region and nation. As tribes across the United States face pressures from development and resource extraction, we’ll continue to see tribes lead the fight to defend their treaty rights, and protect and manage their lands and waters for future generations. The impact of a coal terminal on our treaty fishing rights would be severe, irreparable and impossible to mitigate. Today’s victory is monumental and the Corps followed a fair process defined by law to make the right decision. The Corps has honored the treaty between Lummi and the United States. We will always fight to protect Xwe'chieXen."

Read announcement by the Power Past Coal coalition, of which Friends is a member.

“This is a big win for the Lummi Nation and its allies over the coal companies,” said Michael Lang, Conservation Director for Friends of the Columbia Gorge. “Friends of the Columbia Gorge applauds the Lummi Nation and the decision by the Corps of Engineers to deny the permit for the Gateway Pacific coal export terminal. This decision honors the United States’ obligation to uphold the treaty rights of the Lummi Nation. Further, it prevents up to 18 additional coal trains with open-topped coal cars from polluting the Columbia River Gorge and its communities with coal every day. We’ll continue to oppose a similar coal export terminal in Longview and oil terminals proposed throughout the Northwest."

Learn more about why Friends opposes coal export through the Columbia Gorge and the Pacific Northwest.

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