Coalition Members chat with Dick Donahue about Cherry Point

Whatcom Coalition for Economic Growth members Trevor Smith and John Huntley took to the airwaves to chat with Dick Donahue on KGMI 790 News about proposed regulations by the Whatcom County Council aimed at limiting business activity at Cherry Point.

Trevor Smith represents the Laborers International Union and has lived in Whatcom since 1984, and John Huntley is the owner of Mills Electric and was born and raised here. During the interview both Smith and Huntley discussed just how serious these regulations could be for the regional economy.

Listen to the full interview from KGMI here or review some notable quotes from Trevor Smith and John Huntley’s interview below:

John Huntley, President and CEO, Mills Electric

  • … we are definitely living with a great deal of uncertainty that is really out of our control … need our elected leaders to work more diligently than ever before to create certainty … at Cherry Point and for the people of Whatcom County. The Cherry Point amendments will not only affect the refineries but will affect people and families and how they are supported.”
  • “Our company now…is down 60% with the uncertainty of what is going on [because of the pandemic]. …the uncertainty of what is going on with the County Council just doubles that effect.”
  • “…we need an open and transparent and good faith process to continue and let these refineries do what they do best.”
  • “…The [Whatcom County Exec. Satpal Sidhu] is a lot more open than I had ever dreamed he would be…if we work together the way the Planning Commission has been working with industry …. I think we can all come up with a plan that will work for everyone.
  • “One example is that we had the opportunity to have a great project go out at Phillips 66, a billion dollar project that could be going on right now… with the uncertainty of our County Council and our permitting process … that project went away ….at the same time they were trying to do it here they were doing it on the east coast…the exact same unit. That is now being built with the permits in hand.”
  • “There is no doubt that industry is looking at what is going on in Whatcom County… they are not coming this way because they are not wanted which is pretty sad.”
  • “With Alco leaving, and with industry not coming in that can pay a good salary, it is just really uncertain what is going to go on in Whatcom County.”
  • “What we really need now is full transparency. We need to work together to get our companies at Cherry Point working with the County Council…”
  • “…if we work together the way the Planning Commission has been working with industry …. I think we can all come up with a plan that will work for everyone.”

Trevor Smith, Business Agent, Laborers Local 292

  • “…when we go to restart the economy the refineries are going to have to go to their parent companies to get funding for projects inside their gates, then they are going to go back to this uncertain permitting process … and it is going to be hard to move forward…”
  • “The tragedy… of having Intalco shutdown is that it is a prime example of where are we going to find those living wage jobs ….The reality is that 700 hundred families are going to have to find new ways to support themselves … and they are probably most likely going to have to go outside the county to find living wage employment.”
  • “There is a …. happy medium here where we can make this all work and get the energy and the fuels we need to support daily life and move our economy forward as well as do it cleanly and safely …. that means we need a stable regulatory process.”
  • “…let’s make it [permitting] a transparent process… be upfront about it so the companies know what they are getting into…and then they can move forward with their projects. As opposed to creating uncertainty by having a process that just says, just go ahead and build something and we will let you know what you need to do to get it done.”