This is a guest post by Nick Abraham of Oil Check Northwest, cross-posted with permission.
In the far off Northwest corner of the country, a five-year treaty rights saga has finally come to a head. A $665 million project, called the Gateway Pacific Terminal, has divided Whatcom County and the state of Washington over its potential export; Powder River Basin coal. The developers of the project, Pacific International Terminals, SSA Marine and two coal companies Peabody Energy and Cloud Peak Energy have pushed development over the stead-fast opposition of a coalition of local tribes lead by the near by Lummi Nation. The Lummi have asked the US Government, represented by the Army Corps of Engineers, to protect their long standing treaty fishing rights and burial grounds, claiming both would be gravely effected by the project.
After months of deliberation, Col. John Buck, commander of the Army Corps' Seattle District, made a ruling on the treaty rights of the Lummi and their petition against the terminal. After reviewing thousands of pages of documents, the Corps denied the project's permit, finding that the terminal’s effect on Lummi fishing rights would exceed the threshold of damage that is allowed under the treaty.