The mayor who destroyed the bay for a buck


By Michael Cline



I must send this to you and remind all my local contacts of our mayor’s blatant disregard for the health, welfare and future of our beloved Commencement Bay. 

The ill-fated and planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant that a majority of the taxpaying residents and businesses do not want is being still being pursued by Chinese investors. Great, outside investors are building a new hotel but why a “fueling station?” Why in our Puget Sound and in our shipping lanes?

On May 17, 2017, a coastal Oregon county overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure aimed at … Dominion Energy Inc. and its plans to open the Cove Point LNG port near Coos Bay, Ore. So, did investors just keep moving up the coast to find another town that would not stand up for itself? 

Homeowners in the North End, Proctor District, New Tacoma and Ruston all have valid questions and concerns. Surely Tacoma City Council is not so deaf they cannot even hear the Puyallup Tribal cries of foul. Even as a capitalist myself, the plant is great for others but not so much for the residents of Tacoma and tourists who visit here. Millions of gallons of fuel are shipped outside the United States and Tacoma gets, initially, 500 jobs but only 250 long-term jobs in the end and maybe a natural disaster if LNG malfunctions or has a spill. The Tacoma City Council plays the final role in passing the LNG nightmare scenario or not. While the Puyallup Tribe has already begun a second lawsuit, we as Tacoma residents still stand for a clean bay and clean water for our local tribes.

Tacoma residents really are at the precipice of jeopardizing our great Commencement Bay – again. I know there are really only three remaining permits left to pass. Two sit with our City Council and one with the Fire Department. If they pass, we will have this tumor called LNG along our waterfront. New Tacoma, Old Tacoma, Browns Point and the North End can kiss their property values goodbye. Not to mention if there is a disaster at the plant it will jeopardize the health and viability of Commencement Bay, which already took a generation to clean up from generations of pollution. 

Sadly, our current mayor will not stand with taxpaying residents nor stand with the Puyallup Tribe. The mayor’s avoidance is really by now tacit compliance as I see it. For all the local Northwesterners and life-long Tacomans aged 35-80 who all too well recall the Asarco Tacoma Smelter Plume project. For almost 100 years, the Asarco Company operated a copper smelter in Ruston. Air pollution from the smelter settled on the surface soil of more than 1,000 square miles of the Puget Sound basin. Arsenic, lead and other heavy metals are still in the soil as a result of this pollution. I recall as a kid all too well how long it took our city and our bay to recover; ask any local fisherman or tribal member. 

Tacoma is not a dumping ground for other counties’ waste or fuel products; regardless of the price tag or immediate financial gain. Let’s be clear; after it is built having only 250 long-term jobs is not worth the cost to our Commencement Bay. The Commencement Bay generates far more recreational opportunities, shipping and employment opportunities without LNG in the long run. 

Mayor Victoria Woodards just may be remembered as the worst mayor in Tacoma’s history.The one who destroyed the bay for a buck.

 Martin Cline is a Tacoma resident.

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