Lummi Nation Requests Denial of Coal Export Permit

The Lummi Nation has requested that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deny permits for proposed coal export facility at Cherry Point. The tribe cites severe impact to treaty fishing rights, as well as their cultural and spiritual ways of life.

January 5, 2014 
Lummi Indian Business Council 

Bellingham, Wash.—The Lummi Nation, in a strongly worded letter, asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) to take immediate action to deny a permit to build North America’s largest coal export terminal at Cherry Point, citing significant impacts to treaty rights and irreparable damage to important crab and salmon fisheries.

In a letter sent today to Colonel John Buck of the Seattle District of the Corps, Lummi Chairman Tim Ballew II said the impact of the proposed bulk coal terminal at this historic location cannot be mitigated.

"Nothing will compensate for losing this area. This project will interfere with my treaty right. There is no way to mitigate. - Lummi Fisherman #ProtectOurShores."“The Lummi people have harvested fish at this location for thousands of years,” Ballew said. “We have a sacred obligation to protect this location for its cultural and spiritual significance.”

The proposal to build North America’s largest coal export terminal in Whatcom County on the shores of the Salish Sea has brought sharp criticism from tribes in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. The site is a rich fishing ground that supports hundreds of family fishing businesses. In addition to providing more than a thousand jobs, fishing is also a vital part of the cultural heritage of area tribes and Lummi is working hard to preserve their language, resurrect traditional fishing traditions and educate Lummi youth about their culture.

“As one of our tribal fishermen said, ‘it’s like putting a freeway inside the reservation,’ Chairman Ballew said. “The vessel traffic that would contaminate our fish and shellfish and severely limit the ability of our tribal members to exercise their treaty rights.”

The Lummi have asked the ferderal government to uphold their legal obligiation to protect their tribal treaty rights, lands and resources. To approve the permit, the Tribe argues, would be a violation of these treaty rights.

“The Corps has an obligation to uphold our treaty rights and comply with the federal laws regarding Lummi rights to fish at Cherry Point,” Chairman Ballew said. “Our waters are a way of life and survival for our people. The bottom line is, you can’t mitigate or buy your way out of the damage that this proposed shipping facility would cause.”

Please click here to view the formal letter from Tim Ballew II, Chair of the Lummi Indian Business Council to the Army Corps of Engineers.

To view a statement of support from the Power Past Coal Coalition, please click here.