Crucial win for Northwest communities: Army Corps upholds Lummi Nation treaty rights, denies coal permit at Cherry Point

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities News

 MAY 9

The proposed coal terminal at Xwe’chi’eXen, also knows as Cherry Point, Wash., is dead in the water after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a landmark decision and denied a federal permit Monday, May 9. The Corps ruled the project would impact the treaty-protected fishing rights and ancestral lands of Lummi Nation.

Lummi members cheered the announcement as it was made Monday morning in Lummi Indian Business Council chambers.

“With that, I want to acknowledge the hard work and leadership taken on behalf of all tribal leaders here,” Lummi Chairman Tim Ballew told those gathered. “We wouldn’t have been able to do it without you. Today is a good day. Today definitely is a good day.”

The decision was a major blow to SSA Marine’s struggling proposal and marks the first time that a coal export facility has been rejected based on its negative impacts to the treaty rights of a tribal nation. Last month, SSA Marine suspended work on an environmental review while it awaited the decision.

Since its proposal in 2011, the project has been heatedly debated in Whatcom County. Gateway Pacific has been plagued by delays and financial setbacks, and has faced unprecedented community opposition including more than 124,000 public comments on a scoping process in 2012. Financial backer Goldman Sachs pulled out of the project in 2014; since then, domestic and overseas coal markets have continued their precipitous decline. And this May, leaders from nine tribal nations came together to sign a proclamation urging the Army Corps to respect treaty rights and deny permits for the terminal.

See the complete story here. See a timeline of the project here.

Read the Power Past Coal press release here.

Photo: A group of Lummi Nation tribal fishermen set a reefnet (Sxwo’le) at Cherry Point (Xwe’chi’eXen) in 2014, employing a fishing method practiced in the area for thousands of years.