In a historic turning point in the battle over the proposal to build North America’s largest coal export terminal just north of Bellingham, Washington, on August 3rd Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Snyder ruled against Proposition 2. The Proposition 2 ballot measure initiated by Coal Free Bellingham would have given the citizens of Bellingham the right to vote on whether or not coal trains could travel along the tracks within Bellingham city limits. By ruling against Prop. 2, Judge Snyder sided with the City Council of Bellingham and Burlington Northern-Sante Fe (BNSF) railway company who had jointly sought an injunction to prevent Prop. 2 from appearing on this November’s ballot.
Socialist Alternative stands in complete solidarity with Coal Free Bellingham and the nearly 10,000 citizens who signed the petition qualifying Prop. 2 for the ballot. However, the “City of Bellingham” (as directed by the Bellingham City Council) and BNSF argued that the citizens of Bellingham have no right to vote on an issue that would disrupt interstate commerce. While that argument is technically true according to existing laws, we should be asking, “Why do corporate rights trump citizens’ rights? What kind of system would allow for corporations to hide behind the commerce clause when citizens seek to challenge their environmentally destructive plans?” By hiding behind the commerce clause, the Bellingham City Council has effectively sided with Goldman Sachs, SSA Marine, BNSF, and Peabody Energy that are seeking to build North America’s largest coal export terminal here in Whatcom County.
Coal Free Bellingham has appealed Judge Snyder’s ruling to defend Bellingham citizens’ right to vote on whether we want coal trains coming through town. In order to demand that a vote be allowed on Prop. 2, Socialist Alternative, Coal Free Bellingham, and Decolonize Whatcom have called for a march and rally on Friday, August 31st at 5 pm beginning at the Federal Building and ending at City Hall.
We do not have to accept the corporations and their politicians and judges' claim that we don't have a right to place an initiative on the ballot. We do not have to accept their claim that the environmentally destructive coal jobs are our only option. There is no valid reason why the millions of dollars these corporations want to invest in this environmentally destructive coal export terminal could not be invested in environmentally sustainable union jobs instead.
Let’s march, rally and fight to demand that our legal appeal be accepted and that the next judge overturn Judge Snyder’s decision. The more people that come out to this protest, the more pressure we will bring to bear on the judge, the politicians, and the corporate executives. Join us in saying “NO” to the coal export terminal and demanding green union jobs instead. If they won’t let us register our votes through the ballot box, let’s register our votes with our feet in the street.
Whether or not this project goes ahead will ultimately be determined by how much pressure these corporations exert on the politicians and judges, and how hard our community fights back to defend ourselves. The corporations may have a lot of money and control over the media, but we have masses of people. There is tremendous opposition to this coal terminal in our community. If we publicly demonstrate how intense and widespread the opposition is, we can make it too much of a headache for the corporations and politicians to build it, and we can win green union jobs instead.
We hope to see you, your family, and your friends at the protest on Friday, August 31st at 5 pm at the Federal Building! Spread the word!
For background info on the coal export terminal and how to stop it, read “Stop the Coal Port in Whatcom County! Demand Green Union Jobs Instead.”