Commission again passes on resolution oil drilling off the coast

The Grays Harbor County commissioners were serenaded Monday by a group of about a dozen people opposed to offshore oil drilling.

The group played ukuleles, and some individuals from the group also addressed the commission at its regular meeting, imploring commissioners to pass a resolution against offshore drilling.

On Jan. 4, the Trump Administration moved to expand offshore oil drilling, including in waters off the Washington Coast. State leaders have announced their opposition to those plans.

About a month later, on Feb. 12, a resolution opposing offshore oil drilling was snubbed by the commissioners. The resolution had been drafted by the City of Ocean Shores. Westport, Montesano and Aberdeen have also passed resolutions opposing oil drilling off the coast. While both commissioners Vickie Raines and Randy Ross noted their opposition to developing oil off the coast, Commissioner Wes Cormier said he didn’t have enough information to have an opinion about offshore drilling. Because the commissioners lacked unanimous support for the resolution, they decided not to bring the resolution to the meeting for a vote.

Commissioner Cormier also is adamant that offshore drilling is beyond the purview of the county commissioners.

During the March 12 commission meeting, Linda Orgel of Aberdeen cited the economic benefits of the commercial fishing industry and treaty fishing, and she challenged Cormier’s contention that offshore drilling is not within the county’s scope of business.

“I ask you this — is this not all county business? Every one of these economic activities would be wiped out with any spill from offshore drilling,” Orgel said. “If you can’t support the will of the people and protect their livelihoods, then what is the point of being a county commissioner?”

Another concerned citizen said she is worried about the effect that seismic exploration will have on gray whales along the coast, both in terms of migration and mating.

Finally, the entire group of about a dozen people gathered at the lectern and under the direction of Robin Moore of Hoquiam, they played ukuleles and sang a song outlining their collective concerns about offshore drilling.

“Trump and his gang want to deregulate laws that protect our shores so great. Local politicians better step up to the plate for our coast,” they sang.

After the meeting, the commissioners reaffirmed their positions on offshore drilling.

“I already have a letter of opposition written — it’s being reviewed by the prosecuting attorney,” Raines said. Her letter would be written as an individual commissioner, not as the county board of commissioners.

Commissioner Randy Ross noted that the county’s Shoreline Management Plan already prohibits offshore drilling within its scope.

“Taking a position is in some ways redundant,” Ross said. Ross also restated his personal opposition.

Cormier doubled down on his belief that the issue is not a county issue.

“Do you want your county commissioners talking about the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War? Do you want your county commissioners talking about coining money? Do you want your county commissioners talking about the Federal Reserve? The Second Amendment?” Cormier asked. “Do you want us to weigh in on school district levies? … I was hired as county commissioner to do county business, and I’m going to stick to county business.”

Cormier said voters elect representatives to serve in Congress and Senate at the federal level to handle federal issues.

In February the City of Montesano adopted the resolution from Ocean Shores opposing offshore drilling.

The resolution is symbolic and makes a statement of opposition but doesn’t take any action.

The resolution however received brief discussion, with Montesano Councilman Dan Wood saying it was broad in scope. Wood specifically ridiculed the resolution for mentions of climate change.

“They might as well have something in here that says ‘We oppose bad things and support good things,’” Wood said. “It is so broadly written that it is merely a letter to Santa Claus. The mayors that asked us for this could have done better.”

“It’s of little value as written. I’m willing to vote for it,” Wood said later before the council adopted the resolution.