Yakima Nation takes a stand against Coal Trains and Ports: Highlights of the Pasco Hearing

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Kristina Proszek, Review Coordinator, Yakima Nation

Transcript:

Good evening, my name is Kristina Proszek, I’m the environmental review coordinator for the Yakima Nation. I have been asked to serve as the official delegate tonight for the Yakima Nation.

First, because of the direct and indirect impacts of the proposed Millenium Bulk Terminal will have on the Yakima people and their treaty rights and resources. The Yakima nation asks that the permitting agencies deny millenium’s applications to construct and operate the bulk terminal for coal export in Longview.

The Millenium Bulk Terminal would permanently violate the Yakima nation’s rights to fish, hunt and gather traditional foods. It would also potentially result in irreperable harm to the Yakima nation’s cultural resources.

To be clear, Yakima nation will not negotiate nor agree to so called mitigation for any violations of its treaty reserved rights.

With that said, if permitting agencies decide to move forward with the environmental review process, the Yakima nation reiterates its request for a comprehensive regional environmental analysis.

We do commend the department of ecology in its decision to conduct a broad analysis of the impacts associated with the Cherry Point Proposal, including the evaluation of transportation related impacts to the state and contributions to climate change, etc. We urge permitting agencies here to exercise the same leadership and authority.

To the extent Millenium’s permits are not denied outright, Yakima nation requests and expects permitting agencies to analyze all impacts from the coal’s origins in the copper basin through our homelands to burning the coal in asia, for Millenium project and all others proposed.

Further, Yakima nation expects that the current contamination issues on site at the port of longview will be resolved in their entirety before any further environmental review is undertaken so that a complete and accurate assessment can occur.

The Yakima nation reserves the right to supplement, amend or revise any comments made throughout the scoping process.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

For more information see:

Power Past Coal
Wild Idaho Rising Tide
Washington Environmental Council
Community to Community Development

BACKGROUND

Pasco, WA – October 1, 2013: The Yakima Nation took a hard stance in opposition of the Millennium Bulk Terminal capitalist resource extraction development mega-project which would greatly increase the amount of inland coal transported by rail to the Pacific coast through Yakima Territory.

As of September 23, 2013, the Yakima Nation announced its affiliation with the Affiliated Tribes of the Northwest Indians, composed of over 57 sovereign and autonomous tribes. Harry Smiskin, the chair of the Yakima Council said, “It’s really about protecting Mother Earth.” (Yakamas join opposition to coal-transport proposals, Yakima Herald Republic).

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Coal Train Route. Map by Think Progress.

The Yakima Nation was already allied with three other regional tribes, the Nez Perce, the Warm Springs and Umatilla nations from Oregon that banded together to oppose another capitalist mega-project in 2012 known as the Coyote Island Terminal Coal Facility.

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Indigenous Nations of the Northwest. Map by Nations Online.

In May of 2012, this group of nations, known as the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission organized a resistance against this capitalist mega-project, which is documented via a series of letters:

Yakima Letter to ODSL-Coal Train Facts 3-30-12

Yakima Letter to US Army Corp of Engineers, Columbia Riverkeeper 5-3-12

Columbia River Inter-tribal Fish Commission Letter, 5-7-12

As it has been in Mexico since 1994, where the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) has risen up in arms and via legal disputes in multiple struggles against what they call neoliberal mega-projects of death in order to defend their territory, water rights and autonomy, indigenous tribes and nations in the U.S. are rising with their counterparts in Canada, where multiple movements against neoliberal mega-projects for renewed primitive accumulation of natural resources on the North American Continent continue to grow. These nations are united against corporate death development projects for short term gains at great long term costs, in defense of the earth. These hemispheric indigenous movements have arrived at a political maturity, where together, they will change the world for the better as they spearhead these environmental justice struggles for generations yet to come.

Another world is possible. Another world is here.

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