The RE-Store run by Resources for Sustainable Connections
Ferndale Grain being sued by RE-Sources

Ferndale jobs threatened by local environmental group’s action.

RE-Sources for Sustainable Communities (Correction NOT to be confused with the Sustainable Connections organization) in association with another environmental organization; Puget Soundkeeper,  has filed yet another suit using “citizen” legislation included in the Clean Water Act.  This time the target is Cargill Inc. in Ferndale.

Well before the suit; Cargill was working with the Dept. of Ecology and local authorities to make certain they were in compliance with local and state stormwater regulations.  In the past Puget Soundkeepers and RE-Sources have worked to find these opportunities, having interns and others explore State Dept of Ecology records. Re-Sources sues companies and gain large settlements. Even though Cargill works with DOE to continue to operate in an environmentally responsible matter; Cargill and their jobs are the target this time. In many cases sources say that these suits want water quality that is cleaner than the rain that falls on company roofs.

The charges filed by RE-Sources and Puget Soundkeeper Aug 7th allege that Cargill has been discharging storm-water with high levels of turbidity, zinc and copper over the last 5 years. See the Lynden Tribune Article here.

For Re-Sources and their staff and board listed here(Board near the bottom) this seems to be an ongoing attempt to force local corporations to support their organization and environmental organizations like them; rather than adding any value to the community in “additional” clean up of Puget Sound.  Even though in this case Cargill has been working with the State Department of Ecology and local authorities to be in compliance with all regulations.  One would be hard pressed to find where this suit adds directly to the cleanup efforts or the planning and collaboration that is already taking place. In fact the real threat may be to the jobs associated with Cargill in Ferndale.

Follow the Money

FOLLOW THE MONEY Here is a list of companies that have “settled” these suits out of court; it shows “the Rose Foundation” as the recipient of over $1,000,000 of settlement money in 2016. Since 2012 RE-Sources for sustainable communities has been awarded $144,000 from the Rose Foundation. Was this  a result of this kind of non-cleanup legal activity?  NOTE: these figures do not include Legal fees paid by defendants to the law firms that brought the suit.

 

Background:

THESE SUITS ARE LEGAL: The Clean Water Act allows citizens to bring suit against anyone the citizen deems not in compliance with rules and regulations. See the two pages that allow citizen involvement in the Act itself here.  Check out how one of the ecological litigants (Puget Soundkeeper) implements this money making operation here.  The full text of the Clean Water Act is here.

The Puget Soundkeeper environmental organization interprets the legality under the Federal Clean Water act this way: “Congress made clear that citizens are not to be treated as nuisances or troublemakers but rather as welcomed participants in the vindication of environmental interests.”  Really? does “vindication of environmental interests” mean a green-mail situation where Lawyers are granted huge amounts of money(more than the settlements in some cases) and unknown and un-directed organizations are awarded a large part of any settlement money? And companies settle because they are threatened with the possibility of $50,000 a day in violation fines and additional court costs. And does “vindication of environmental interest” mean directly threatening jobs in any given community.

RE-Sources HAS BEEN HERE BEFORE:

A 2010 Bellingham Herald Article tells much the same story: In that case Teal Jones a lumber company with 45 employees near Sumas, was presented with the same kind of suit vis a vis the Clean Water Act. At the end of this process the company settled… instead of going to court, $89,000 was paid to the Seattle environmental law firm of Smith and Lownrey in fees and costs.  And $81,000 was paid to “water-quality restoration projects run by other organizations.” Read the full article here.  Teal Jones no longer lists any business in Whatcom County on their website.

 

Public Disclosure Commission

The last time the Fourth Corner reported on RE-Sources for sustainable communities it was to report that the Public Disclosure Commission had found them guilty of Public Disclosure Commission Violations and placed them on probation for engaging in a political campaign without reporting anything to the Public Disclosure commission. The charges and the resulting warning from the Public Disclosure Commission are here.

Carl Weimer Whatcom County Councilman

Re-Sources’ Former Executive Director is Carl Weimer currently serving on the Whatcom County Council. Re-Sources has received  thousands  in Whatcom County tax dollars to teach in our public schools. See 2012 paperwork for RE-Sources being allocated county tax dollars.

Are these suits “political” in nature as well as a way for these environmental organizations to fill their coffers and threaten jobs?  Where was the “citizen”(as defined by the Clean Water Act) interest in Puget Sound when the City of Seattle was dumping hundreds of millions of gallons of untreated sewage into Puget Sound.

Councilman Satpal Sidhu

And furthermore where was the RE-Source outrage and civil suit when TreOil Industries Biorefinery, 4242 Aldergrove Road threatened ground water and had to have emergency clean-up efforts instituted by the State Department of Ecology; see the article here…  and Satpal 2014 Candidate Statement.

 

CONCLUSION:

Is RE-Sources a real asset to the community?:

It is really difficult to see how these green mail suits help clean up the environment; or help solve problems connected with the cleaning of the environment; or move the community along in any positive way. It seems that money for extremist environmental groups is at the end of this environmental Rainbow and are nothing more than a threat to local jobs. Should RE-Sources look for a different model to accomplish their stated mission?   What do you think?

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Long time observer of State and Local Politics. Charlie was born and raised in Whatcom County Washington. Served in the US Air Force in the 70's and served for 12 years on the Meridian School Board (north of Bellingham Washington) and a stint on the County Charter Review Commission. Retired except for Blogging and enjoying life.

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