OPINION: Please don’t make Hoquiam an oil town

By Robin Moore

The oil industry is an extraction economy, thus has a limited life span. Grays Harbor’s established forestry and fishery industries are renewable. The proposed crude oil project will adversely impact the woods and the waters. Long term employment will be sacrificed. Family traditions will be lost. Doctors and other professionals will not want to work here. Young people will continue to leave the county to make their lives in a healthy environment. Why should this short lived project be given a permit to proceed when we will likely have another round of unemployment when the plant shuts down? Can Contanda be compelled to provide adequate post-employment compensation for their workers?

The following is from the Hoquiam Municipal Code. It lays out the protections we give ourselves.

11.04.020 Purpose.

This chapter is intended to carry out the responsibilities imposed on the city of Hoquiam by the Shoreline Management Act of 1971. It is the policy of the city to provide for the management of the shorelines of the city by planning for and fostering all reasonable and appropriate uses. This policy is designed to provide for the development of these shorelines in a manner which will promote and enhance public interest. This policy contemplates protecting against adverse effects to the public health, the land, its vegetation, wildlife, and the waters of the state and their aquatic life, and incidental rights. The city council declares that the interest of all of the people are paramount in the management of shorelines of statewide significance. In adopting the guidelines for shorelines of statewide significance, the city council has given preference to the uses in the following order of preference which:

(1) Recognize and protect the statewide interest over local interest;

(2) Preserve the natural character of the shorelines;

(3) Result in long-term over short-term benefit;

(4) Protect the resources and ecology of the shorelines;

(5) Increase public access to publicly owned areas of the shorelines;

(6) Increase recreational opportunities for the public in the shorelines.

(7) Provide for any other element as defined in RCW 90.58.100 deemed appropriate or necessary.

Hoquiam does not exist apart from the rest of the state, nation, or world. Is the city taking the long term, global aspect of this project into consideration when making its final determination? Can the narrowness of the study area be set aside in an effort to avoid harmful impacts to the people of Montana, Idaho, Spokane, the Columbia Gorge, and all the little towns and burgs from North Dakota to Beijing?

The construction of one little oil terminal doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Except that it is an oil terminal in our part of the world and we have to take a stand. It will be a stand that says we look to the future. We intend to do more than take the easy money. We want to create something new and better.

City fathers and mothers, please use all your wisdom and expertise to make a decision for long term wealth instead of short term pocket change. That wealth will be of more than the economic type, such as the lucrative fishing and tourist industries. That wealth will be that of preserving a community worth living in. You can do the right thing. You can deny the permits.

Robin Moore is a resident of Hoquiam