Local and State Groups File Appeal on Shell Oil Transport Decision

by Tom Glade Friday, September 12, 2014 7:49 PM

Concerned citizens appeal Skagit County decision to move forward without full environmental review.

Mount Vernon, WA—Six state and local conservation groups, including RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, FRIENDS of the San Juans, ForestEthics, Washington Environmental Council, Friends of the Earth, and Evergreen Islands, represented by Earthjustice, filed an appeal yesterday of Skagit County’s decision to allow a proposed Shell Puget Sound Refinery crude-by-rail facility to move forward without requiring a full and transparent environmental review.

Shell has proposed a facility that would receive one unit train of crude oil per day, with each unit train consisting of four locomotives and approximately 102 crude oil tank cars.  Nearby refineries have built similar facilities; however, those refineries began their projects before an ongoing chain of oil train explosions revealed the extreme volatility of the Bakken crude.  The July 6, 2013 oil train explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, one of the first disasters in the chain, killed 47 people and destroyed roughly half of the Lac-Megantic’s downtown.

“Before we allow more oil trains, we better make sure they pose no threat to our communities,” said Tom Glade with Evergreen Islands.  “Shell’s plans, especially coming after all the derailments and accidents that we’ve already seen, must undergo a thorough and public analysis to ensure our safety.”

In Skagit County, the oil trains pass right through the downtowns of Burlington, Conway, and Mount Vernon.  The oil trains also cross the old Burlington/Mount Vernon bridge spanning the Skagit River immediately above the Anacortes Water Treatment Plant and the old swing bridge spanning the Swinomish Channel directly adjacent to the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Extensive crude-by-rail oil transport systems have increased dramatically in recent years.   In 2008, only 9,500 tank cars transported crude nationally, as compared to over 400,000 tank cars in 2013, an increase of over 4000%.

These conservation groups are filing this appeal because of significant risks and impacts to people, water, and wildlife, and are demanding a full environmental review. They are also demanding that Shell be prevented from using any rail facility as a way to ship crude over marine waters.

“Without prohibitions on the export of crude oil from the Shell Refinery,” said Fred Felleman, Northwest consultant for Friends of the Earth “Increased train traffic will also result in increased tanker traffic and oil spills. This risk to Puget Sound is simply too great.”


Earthjustice: http://earthjustice.org/
Evergreen Islands: http://www.evergreenislands.org/
Forest Ethics:  http://forestethics.org/
FRIENDS of the San Juans: http://www.sanjuans.org/
Friends of the Earth: http://www.foe.org/
Re Sources for Sustainable Community: http://www.re-sources.org/
Washington Environmental Council: http://wecprotects.org/


Shell Oil Products Proposed Crude by Rail Unloading Facility Shoreline Variance/ Substantial Development Permit (File #13-0468)

by Tom Glade Tuesday, March 25, 2014 8:18 PM


February 15, 2014

To: Leah Forbes, AICP

Senior Planner, Skagit County Planning & Development Services

cc: Evergreen Islands Board of Trustees

Re: Shell Oil Products Proposed Crude by Rail Unloading Facility

Shoreline Variance/ Substantial Development Permit (File #13-0468)

Dear Ms. Forbes:

On the behalf of Evergreen Islands, I am submitting this comment letter regarding the permitting of Shell Oil Products Proposed Crude by Rail Unloading Facility.

In large part, this letter is a pictorial essay about our concerns that the proposed Shell Oil Products railroad terminal, which will facilitate refining crude oil delivered in tank cars, will likely have a probable significant adverse environmental impacts on the Skagit County’s irreplaceable and invaluable environment. A summary of our salient points are included in a summary at the end of our letter.

While the Shell proposal has the potential for global environmental impacts, this brief letter focuses on the probable significant adverse environmental impacts involving our (Skagit County’s) local environment. This letter addresses the potential adverse impacts on the following elements of our environment (see Figure 1):

· Padilla Bay

· The March Point Heronry

· The City of Burlington


Padilla Bay National Estuarine Reserve

The construction and subsequent use of an oil train terminal will have major on an ecosystem of regional and national importance.


The Padilla Bay National Estuarine Reserve is part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, which is a partnership of NOAA and coastal states to study and protect vital coastal and estuarine resources.

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System website[1] lists the following benefits of estuaries:

Estuarine Benefits

  • Estuaries act like huge sponges, buffering and protecting upland areas from crashing waves and storms and preventing soil erosion. They soak up excess water from floods and stormy tidal surges driven into shore from strong winds.
  • Estuaries provide a safe haven and protective nursery for small fish, shellfish, migrating birds, and coastal shore animals. In the U.S., estuaries are nurseries to more than 75% of all fish and shellfish harvested. 
  • People enjoy living near estuaries and the surrounding coastline. They sail, fish, hike, swim, and enjoy bird watching. An estuary is often the center of a coastal community.

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System website[2] also describes the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve as follows:

Padilla Bay is located in Skagit County, Washington, in the northern reaches of greater Puget Sound, on the southeastern fringe of the San Juan Archipelago. The Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) protects one of the largest continuous beds of eelgrass in the contiguous United States.  The surrounding region is part of the Skagit Valley agricultural complex, one of the most fertile regions in the world. Padilla Bay covers more than 11,000 acres of a broad, flat intertidal embayment disconnected from normal flows of the Skagit River due to diking.  Habitats within the reserve are predominately aquatic with most of its habitat dominated by eelgrass (Zostera marina and Z. japonica), with a smaller portion of its boundary including uplands, freshwater sloughs, and high salt marsh.  Habitats in the Padilla Bay NERR support herring, smelt, pink and chum salmon, flatfish, Dungeness crab, ducks including Black Brant, eagles, shorebirds, and peregrine falcons.  Mammals found in Padilla Bay include harbor seals and river otters.

[1] The National Estuarine Research Reserve System, Background/Overview


[2] The National Estuarine Research Reserve System, Padilla Bay, WA


The March Point Heronry

The impacts of a oil train terminal will have adverse impacts on the largest heronry on the west coast of the United States of America. The efforts to protect the March Point heronry have a long history of community involvement.

A full environmental impact study will be required to assess and address the community’s concerns about the changes will come if the project is permitted.



The Skagit Land Trust’s website[3] describes its March Point Heronry property as follows:

Hosting one of the largest Great Blue Heron colonies in Western North America, this island of forest sits between Padilla and Fidalgo Bays. 300 heron nests were counted in 2014 in this relatively small area, which provides easy access to feeding grounds for the herons. Vera and Bud Kinney donated this property to Skagit Land Trust in 1994 to protect the nesting herons.

With the cooperation of neighboring landowners, each year, Skagit Land Trust conducts a nest count in the heronry. Unfortunately, Skagit Land Trust does not have access to all neighboring property, and therefore some heron nests are uncounted.  The overall trend, however, shows increasing number of heron nests in the colony on SLT property and the property to which we have access -- and there are likely to be hundreds more nests on the adjacent property to which we do not have access.


[3] Skagit Land Trust, March Point Heronry Property




The Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve website[4] describes the March Point heron colony as follows:

The heron colony on March's Point is believed to be the largest nesting area for Great Blue Herons in all of Western North America. Herons have nested at this site on Padilla Bay since the late 1970s. In 1984, just 42 nests were counted at this site, with a steady increase ever since. In 2006 Skagit Land Trust estimated over 700 active nests in the area!!!

Skagit Land Trust owns the land which supports part of the heronry and has developed conservation agreements with neighboring landowners and the City of Anacortes to further protect the habitat and nesting birds. The site also hosts an active bald eagle nest. Remarkably this robust nesting sanctuary sits in the midst of the City of Anacortes' Industrial Area. Due to the sensitivity of the nesting site, direct access to the heronry is not permitted.

March's Point is located near three productive estuary bays; Fidalgo, Padilla and Similk. These and the farm fields of the Samish and Skagit river deltas, provide herons with areas to hunt for fish, frogs and small mammals. The proximity of so much rich foraging habitat makes it ideal for finding enough food to satisfy hungry, young chicks

In summary, serious consideration must be given to full impact on a local environment that citizens have fought long and hard to preserve.

[4] The Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve/ March's Point Heron Colony


The Swinomish Channel Railroad Swing Bridge

Recently the nation’s attention has been drawn to the serious risk posed by insufficient and deteriorating rail infrastructures where crude oil is being transported by rail. Documented devastation of human and natural environmental requires an exhaustive study of our local conditions and the increase in rail traffic as a consequence of the proposed oil train terminal.


In a thread[5] entitled “Tesoro, Anacortes WA unit oil trains,” two train engineers posted the following comments on the RailRoadForums blog:

09-15-2012, 08:21 PM

martin burwash


Have seen the big units take it all the way out to Anacortes...can definitely tell the difference when they come by the house!

Martin Burwash

09-16-2012, 10:28 AM

Jon Bentz


Wow! I'm surprised the swing bridge out near the refinery can handle those units.

How many of these are running per week?


Train Derails on Bridge Over Schuylkill River, NBC10.com, January 21, 2014


In light of the train derailment last summer in Quebec that killed 47 people, citizens, first responders, and government officials must realize the significant adverse impacts of oil train derailments on our local communities and our natural environments, which can only be accomplished through a thorough environmental impact study.

[5] Thread: Tesoro, Anacortes WA unit oil trains, RailroadForums.com


Railroad Curve in Downtown Burlington


Ralph Bennett      



Wetland Mitigation

The proposed plan for wetland mitigations will result in a significant loss of essential wetland function that directly affect Padilla Bay. The mitigation plan does not require on-site mitigation, which is essential for such an important local environ. A thorough environmental study should be able quantify the significance of the loss.


The Wetland Mitigation Bank Use Plan[6] states the following (emphasis added):

Unavoidable direct and indirect permanent wetland impacts resulting from the project total 25.29 acres, including

19.16 acres of Category III emergent (pasture) wetlands,

3.92 acres of Category III forested wetlands,

1.51 acres of Category III scrub-shrub wetlands,

0.59 acre of Category IV emergent wetlands,

0.09 acre of Category II emergent wetlands, and

0.02 acre of Category II forested wetlands.

[6] WETLAND MITIGATION BANK USE PLAN, Crude by Rail East Gate Project, December 17, 2013


Nookachamps Wetland Mitigation Bank



As shown in the figure above, the Nookachamps Wetland Mitigation Bank is located on the northern limits of the City of Mount Vernon. Figure 2 below demonstrates that the March Point wetlands at the Shell site are outside of the wetland mitigation bank’s service area. Figure 3 below demonstrates that the March Point wetlands at the Shell site not even in the same drainage basin as the Nookachamps Wetland Mitigation Bank.

Figure 2. Nookachamps Wetland Mitigation Bank Service Area



Figure 3. Skagit County iMap Skagit River / Samish River Sub-basins







In summary, Evergreen Islands as the following concerns about significant adverse environmental impacts on the following invaluable and irreplaceable elements of Skagit County:

Padilla Bay

  • Wetlands are effectively stormwater treatment plants, and ideally wetland mitigation efforts should occur onsite in an effort to preserve the functions of the wetlands that will be destroyed. The end result of mitigating those wetlands in a wetland mitigation bank that is not only 11 miles away but also that is in an entirely different drainage basin will be that the March Point runoff into Padilla Bay will be significantly degraded.
  • Railroad engineers have expressed concerns about the safety of the Swinomish Channel swing bridge. A rail car derailment on the bridge could have long term, catastrophic impacts on Padilla Bay, the Swinomish Channel, and potentially La Conner. Skagit Bay and Similk Bay.

March Point Heronry

  • Will the noise and rumbling of multiple daily 100-car oil trains transporting crude oil to both the Shell refinery and the Tesoro refinery drive the herons away from the largest Great Blue Heron heronry on the west coast of the United States?
  • Will the construction of the multiple train tracks near the heronry occur during the nesting season, which may in a large scale nesting failure?
  • Will the loss of 25 acres of wetlands on March Point adversely impact the heron’s food supply and drive the herons away from the heronry?

· City of Burlington

  • What measures will be taken to prevents the horrific oil train derailments that have occurred recently in western Pennsylvania (February 13, 2014); Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (January 21, 2014); Casselton, North Dakota (December 30, 2013); western Alabama (November 11, 2013); Lac-Mégantic, Quebec (July 6, 2013); Tsikilwa, Illinois (October 7, 2011); Cherry Valley, Illinois (June 19, 2009); New Brighton, Pennsylvania (May 13, 2008); etc?

Respectfully yours,


Tom Glade, President


Evergreen Islands Appeals Mount Erie Clear-Cutting

by Tom Glade Saturday, August 24, 2013 8:16 AM

Evergreen Islands has appealed Skagit County’s State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) decision on the environmental impacts of clear-cutting 40 acres of forest on the south face of Mount Erie.  The decision, a Mitigated Determination of Nonsignificance (MDNS), allows the ‘harvesting’ of approximately 900,000 board feet of timber.

Evergreen Islands and lots of other people wrote to the County and expressed our concerns about the clear-cutting.  In the our letter included below, Evergreen Islands asked  Skagit County to change their decision to a Determination of Significance, which would have required an Environmental Impact Statement, but to no avail.

The appeal will be heard before the Skagit County Hearing Examiner at a date yet to be scheduled.  Evergreen Islands has retained an attorney to present the reasons why the slopes of Mount Erie should not be clear-cut.  Our effort to thwart the clear-cutting will be expensive (e.g. the fee for the Hearing Examiner appeal was $1,000).

You can financially help with this appeal by making a tax-deductible donation to Evergreen Islands.

June 28, 2013

To:       Dale Pernula, Director
            Skagit County Planning & Development Services
CC:      John Cooper, Natural Resource Planner
            Skagit County Planning & Development Services

Re:      PL13-0102, Mount Erie Logging Permit

Dear Mr. Pernula:
On the behalf of Evergreen Islands, I am submitting this comment letter, which addresses the PL13-0102 application to harvest approximately 900,000 board feet of timber on a 40 acre parcel on the slopes of Mount Erie, a mountain within the Anacortes Community Forest Lands (ACFL).
Evergreen Islands believes that the County made an “error in law” when Skagit County, the lead State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) agency, decided that an Environmental Impact Statement was not required1 for this application. The proposed action to clear cut 40 acres on Fidalgo Island “is likely to have a probable significant adverse environmental impact” on the quality of Fidalgo Island’s environment.
The decision fails to recognize the cultural and environmental importance of the adjacent Anacortes Community Forest Lands and the nearby Deception Pass State Park (less than a mile to the south – see Figure 2 in the attachments).  Figure 1 illustrates the location of the subject property.
The Anacortes Community Forest Lands is classified as a Fish And Wildlife Habitat Conservation Area in the Anacortes Critical Areas Ordinance2 (AMC 17.70.540)
Figure 1. Location of Parcel 19301
The inappropriate SEPA threshold determination was based on an incomplete and an inadequate SEPA Checklist. The following comments address the incompleteness and the inadequacies of the checklist.
11. Aesthetics3
b. What views in the immediate vicinity would be altered or obstructed?

Amazingly the response to this question was none.  The following two photographs show that the views of Mount Erie will change not only dramatically, but also for many, many years in the future.


Mountain Project website


Philip Elverum

13.     Historic and cultural preservation4
a.  Are there any places or objects listed on, or proposed for, national, state, or local preservation registers known to be on or next to the site? If so, generally describe.

As mentioned previously, Mount Erie is a mountain within the Anacortes Community Forest Lands (ACFL). The Anacortes Community Forest Lands is classified as a Fish And Wildlife Habitat Conservation Area in the Anacortes Critical Areas Ordinance5 (AMC 17.70.540). The intention of this section Anacortes Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) is to preserve the local fish and wildlife habit, and thereby the Anacortes CAO qualifies as a local preservation register.
b.  Generally describe any landmarks or evidence of historic, archaeological, scientific, or cultural importance known to be on or next to the site.

Mount Erie is a quintessential Skagit County landmark, a prominent feature that stands out when one enters the Skagit County on I-5 from either the north or the south. Mount Erie is culturally important to the people living on Fidalgo Island because of its prominence.  If the clear-cutting is allowed, Mount Erie will be defaced, and its resulting scars will not be healed for many decades
Evergreen Islands asks the Planning Director, as the SEPA responsible official, to rescind your decision and replace it with a Decision of Significance, which will require an Environmental Impact Study to determine the impacts of clear-cutting the slopes of Mount Erie. The clear-cutting will likely have a probable significant adverse environmental impact on the quality of Fidalgo Island’s environment.

Respectfully yours,

Tom Glade, President



WAC 197-11-330,  Threshold determination process
2 Anacortes Municipal Code 17.50.570.D, Anacortes Community Forest Lands (ACFL) Standards.
(Title 17 – ZONING; Article VI. Fish and Wildlife Conservation Areas; 17.70.570 – Performance standards—Specific habitats)
3 WAC 197-11-960, Environmental checklist, Item 10.
4 WAC 197-11-960, Environmental checklist, Item 13.


Trolls on the loose

by Judy Booth Thursday, July 11, 2013 11:10 PM

A Guest Opinion By Judy Booth
La Conner Weekly News, July 11, 2013

What do patent hoarders, Obama, Tethys and the Skagit River have in common?

Patent hoarders troll universities and research centers around the world looking for patents to buy. Then they look for products using that technology and demand a licensing fee or threaten court action.

They set up “shell” companies who take innovators to court, hiding the name of the parent company.  Inventors, scientists and universities can face years of litigation, thereby draining our economy and crushing creativity.  Most just give up and pay out of court.

They “don’t actually produce anything themselves,” but work “to essentially leverage and hijack somebody else’s idea and see if they can extort some money out of them,” President Obama said.

Once a patent troller has acquired a patent, they look for innovators who are developing the same or similar idea and demand a licensing fee or threaten to take them to court.  With pockets deep enough to hold up a would-be inventor for years, settlements are usually made out of court. The shell company sometimes sues as many as a hundred different innovators over the same idea.

The fact that a patent troller can hold a piece of paper, instead of developing that idea is what is so galling.  They are not interested in making products or developing ideas, but in buying and selling paper for their own profit and suing other companies over supposed patent infringement.   Like a troll hiding under a bridge, they pop up unexpectedly and make unreasonable demands, laughing all the way to bank with no concern for innovation or the economy.

Possibly the largest patent troller in the world is Intellectual Ventures of Bellevue, with upwards of 58,000 patents and over 1,200 shell companies world-wide, according to the
Stanford Technology Law Review.

Considering CEO Nathan Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures gave $50,000 to Obama’s inauguration dinner, it should be interesting to see how he counsels the President on legislation of patent trolls aimed at transparency.

So if you have an idea on how to improve the Internet, back up files, store information or come up with a better idea on how to automate bottling plants, be careful, trolls are on the loose.

Intellectual Venture’s Vice President is
Steve Winter.  He is also the CEO of Tethys who has a saleable piece of paper with the City of Anacortes to build one of the largest beverage bottling plants in the U.S. on Reservation Road and Highway 20.




by Ross Barnes Monday, July 1, 2013 5:05 AM

June 28, 2013


From:  Ross O. Barnes

13695 Harbor Lane

Anacortes, WA 98221

(360) 293-7023


To:  John Cooper

Skagit County P&DS

1800 Continental Place

Mount Vernon, WA 98273




My comments are on behalf of myself and Evergreen Islands. 


On April 12, 2013, I submitted comments to you on PL13-0102.  These comments identified a designated Wildlife Habitat Conservation Area (HCA) of local importance--the Anacortes Community Forest Lands (ACFL)-as immediately north of the subject Harkness property and subject to the applicable regulations of the Skagit County Critical Areas Ordinance under SCC 14.24.520 (Exhibit A).  My April 12 letter specifically identified what would be required to meet the requirements of SCC 14.24.520. 


Both your draft MDNS and the May 24, 2013, Stratum Group/Edison Engineering report on which the MDNS is based, fail to recognize the ACFL as a protected HCA and fail to provide the applicable evaluations, recommendations and mitigation required by Skagit County code. 


In the absence of the required evaluations and mitigation plan, SCC 14.24.520 requires that any site disturbances remain at least 200’ away from the HCA-ACFL boundary on the north property line of the Harkness property.  We request that you add an additional condition to the MDNS that specifies this minimum 200’ setback from the ACFL as a protected critical area.  Without this additional condition, your proposed MDNS violates Skagit County code. 




The ACFL is the centerpiece of Anacortes’ non-marine HCA’s and an essential element of  wildlife habitat protection in Anacortes.  All of the complex habitat of the ACFL is a protected critical area in its entirety and for all wildlife species, not just listed species.  The Stratum Group/Edison Engineering report evaluated only listed species and ignored the whole ACFL as an HCA.  My April 12 letter listed just some of the potential impacts of the Harkness projects on the ACFL habitats. 


Evaluation of submitted site plans show that the 200’ setback from the ACFL HCA, that is required in the absence of  HCA specific evaluations and habitat management/mitigation plans, falls within the designated falcon nest buffer or is above the base of the rock cliff where logging is not proposed (Exhibit B).  Thus, this 200’ setback that is required under Skagit County code will impose no additional restrictions on the logging and development activities proposed for the Harkness property, but will bring the MDNS into compliance with Skagit County code. 


Please notify me immediately of your final MDNS decision so we have adequate time for appeal if that is necessary.  My email address is georbarnes@hotmail.com. 


Ross O. Barnes, Ph.D.

Earth Science



Attachments:  Exhibits A and B


Despite city’s assurances, shortages loom in the future

by Ross Barnes Wednesday, April 24, 2013 9:41 PM

Reader Commentary, Anacortes American, Wednesday, April 24, 2012


The City of Anacortes’ 55 million gallons per day of continuous and 11 million gallons per day of interruptible Skagit River water rights are recognized as a principal water supply resource in Skagit County that will be increasingly called on to supply the future needs and growth of Skagit County residents and businesses.

With commendable foresight, the city took advantage of temporary inexpensive funding opportunities to rebuild its water treatment plant to technological state-of-the-art and to fully exploit the hydraulic capacity of the existing water intake structure on the Skagit River. The plant is now ready to serve the needs of water customers for the next 40 years or so.

However, Anacortes officials torpedo and submerge this “good” story with other actions and statements that demonstrate they have neither the sense of responsibility nor basic intellectual honesty to be trusted as stewards of an essential public water resource.

City Council member Cynthia Richardson’s commentary on local water issues in the March 6 American is typical of the self-serving fairy story on water promulgated by City Hall that misdirects and misinforms the public on the reality of future supply and demand issues in the Anacortes water supply system.

Ms. Richardson spins an anecdotal tale of Skagit River hydrology that, although factually correct in the narrow sense, is irrelevant to the technical and legal constraints on future water supply in Skagit County.
I can discuss here only a small sample of Anacortes’ irresponsible actions and misstatements on Skagit County water supply issues.

Skagit County has projected water supply needs and preliminary water system planning to the year 2050. This Skagit County Coordinated Water System Plan (CWSP) is part of the Anacortes Comprehensive Plan, and Anacortes is legally obliged to operate its water supply system in conformity with the long-range planning horizon and policies of the CWSP.

The current CWSP was published in 1999, which predates the severe future water supply constraints introduced by the infamous Skagit Basin In-stream Flow Rule that has spawned endless controversy and litigation between “water factions” in Skagit County. Thus, the water supply projections of the CWSP must be modified by subsequent legal developments such as the In-stream Flow Rule, which is a Washington state administrative regulation, and the state Municipal Water Law of 2003.

The distribution of future population growth in Skagit County assumed by the CWSP is not supported by current comprehensive planning in Skagit County, so water demand projections are best evaluated by combining the two principal municipal water system service areas — Anacortes and Skagit PUD — to avoid speculation on where long-term urban growth will occur in the county (this is one reason for having coordinated countywide water supply planning).

Indeed, there are multiple interties between the Anacortes and PUD water systems, and PUD is a major wholesale customer of the Anacortes water system. Also, the boundary between the two water system service areas may change in the future to achieve better balance between water supply and demand.

The In-stream Flow Rule does not contemplate increasing the existing continuous Skagit Basin water rights of the Anacortes and PUD water systems to meet future demand. This fundamental restriction on future water supply was not considered by the earlier CWSP.

To quantify the magnitude of Anacortes’ irresponsible actions and misstatements, I need to discuss a few actual numbers from the CWSP and other water planning documents.

For the year 2050, the CWSP projects a potential peak water demand in the combined Anacortes/PUD service areas of 117.8 MGD against combined Anacortes/PUD continuous Skagit Basin water supply rights of 82.5 MGD — a supply deficit of 35.3 MGD, that must be met, if at all, from raw water storage reservoirs.

PUD has a raw water storage reservoir that will allow it to fully utilize its 8.3 MGD of interruptible water rights that cannot be drawn during low-flow conditions in the water source areas that coincide with the peak demand period of late summer and early fall. The 8.3 MGD is typically not available for about one-fourth of the year, which reduces the average yearly interruptible draw to 6.3 MGD and the peak demand deficit to 29 MGD versus averaged water rights.

Anacortes has no significant raw water storage capacity, so the future utility of its 11 MGD of interruptible water to meet dry season peak demand is unknown. Against this serious peak demand deficit, the CWSP projects and allocates a total of 21 MGD of industrial water use for the whole of Skagit County to the year 2050 — 16 MGD to Anacortes and 5 MGD to PUD.

But as stated above, all of this water may not actually be available, or may have to be “taken” from other users during periods of peak demand. In spite of the county water supply deficits projected in the Anacortes Comprehensive Plan, Anacortes signed a contract with Tethys Enterprises to supply up to 5.5 MGD of new industrial water out to 2050. Combined with the existing 12.9 MGD of water used by Shell and Tesoro refineries, the Tethys contract alone brings the large industrial water use in the Anacortes system to 18.4 MGD or 2.4 MGD greater than Anacortes’ projected industrial allocation in the CWSP.

The Tethys contract also uses up all of the 1 MGD of new industrial water use allocated to the rest of Skagit County through the PUD, plus another 1.4 MGD.

In summary, Anacortes (1) ignores the long-range water demand/supply forecasts of its own comprehensive water planning documents that project serious potential water supply deficits by 2050 in Skagit County, (2) contracts to give all of the projected new industrial water supply for all of Skagit County, plus more, to one new industrial customer, and (3) requires that all of that overallocated water be delivered within Anacortes city limits.

And then Anacortes complains that increasing numbers of Skagit County residents and their government representatives are antagonistic to Anacortes’ shortsighted actions and continuous misstatements with respect to county water supply issues that will affect everyone and every business and community in Skagit County.

A more detailed discussion of the quantitative water supply and demand projections for Skagit County, including graphical presentations, can be found at www.evergreenislands.org under the title City of Anacortes Petition to Modify UGA Boundary, posted January 29, 2013.

Editor’s note: After receiving Mr. Barnes’ letter, the American asked Public Works Director Fred Buckenmeyer for a city perspective on future water supplies

URL: https://goanacortes.com/letters/entry/letters_april_24_2013



by Tom Glade Sunday, March 24, 2013 3:18 PM

clip_image002[4]TETHYS ENTERPRISES, INC.

1. Why did the City Council negotiate the Tethys Water Service Agreement in secret?

2. Why did the Mayor submit the initial urban growth area application to Skagit County without City Council review and approval?

3. Why did the City submit the revised urban growth area application to Skagit County without City Council review and approval?

4. Why did the City propose a “zoning swap” for Samish land without a written agreement from the Samish?

5. Why has the City stifled public participation at every step in the process?


  1. Why was no public hearing held for the 2011 Anacortes Water System Plan when it’s an integral part of the Anacortes Comprehensive Plan?
  2. On December 7, 2001, why did the City voluntarily relinquish 9.7 million gallons per day (mgd) of its water rights?
  3. The Anacortes Water System Plan specifies 3.4 mgd for future industrial use, but Tethys will require an additional 5.5 mgd.  Why wasn’t the additional need for 2.1 mgd accounted for? 
  4. Was the 2.1 mgd unaccounted because the 5.5 mgd exceeds the Skagit Coordinated Water Plan’s allocation by 2.4 mgd, a serious violation of Anacortes comprehensive planning policies?


  1. In the pipeline easement contract with the Swinomish, the Swinomish 2.8 mgd perpetual water allocation was increased by 200,000 gallons per day. Why didn’t the City ask the Skagit River Flow Management Committee to sign onto the increase as required by the agreements of the 1996 Memorandum of Agreement?
  2. Why weren’t the citizens of Anacortes allowed to publicly comment on the loss of 200,000 gallons per day of their future water supply?


  1. Why did the City oppose the County’s request to add a committee member to represent our rural landowners and a committee member to represent our farmers?
  2. How much money has the City spent on multiple water rights litigations, and how much of that money came out of taxpayers’ pockets?
  3. Why is the City pilfering the additional 2.4 mgd industrial water required for Tethys from Skagit PUD’s meager 5 mgd allocation of industrial water?


  1. Why did the article entitled “City, County, State and Tribal governments mark 30 years of cooperative water planning” factually misrepresent the contentious water right litigations over the last decade and still underway?
  2. Since climate change will significantly increase the duration of low flows in the Skagit River, further endangering our salmon, why did the article entitled, “Climate change and the river” make deceptive statements such as “annual flows in the river will remain about the same” and “climate change will bring less snow, the same amount of rain, and same average annual flow in the Skagit River?”
  3. Why did the article, “How much Skagit River water does City use?” use a deceptive apples-to-oranges comparison between Anacortes water rights and Skagit River average flows.
  4. Why has the City initiated a statewide campaign to disseminate this deceptive information?


By State Law, A Public Hearing Was Required Before the 2011 Anacortes Water System Plan Was Adopted

by Tom Glade Thursday, February 28, 2013 9:03 PM

I presented the following comments to the Anacortes City Council both verbally at the Citizens Hearings portion of the February 18 City Council meeting and in a letter to the City Council dated February 25.

In general my comments (my spoken comments are emphasized) were as follows:

Good evening,-

My name is Tom Glade, and I reside at 210 Mansfield Ct, Anacortes.  I’m speaking this evening on the behalf of Evergreen Islands.

I’d like to read you some direct quotes from Washington state and City of Anacortes official documents.  I’ll be brief and I ask the Council to allow me the courtesy of speaking freely without interruption.

 The laws[1] of Washington State requires the following:

After preparing the comprehensive plan, or successive parts thereof, as the case may be, the planning agency shall hold at least one public hearing on the comprehensive plan or successive part. Notice of the time, place, and purpose of such public hearing shall be given as provided by ordinance and including at least one publication in a newspaper of general circulation delivered in the code city and in the official gazette, if any, of the code city, at least ten days prior to the date of the hearing. Continued hearings may be held at the discretion of the planning agency but no additional notices need be published.





by Ross Barnes Tuesday, January 29, 2013 8:05 PM

January 29, 2013

Ross O. Barnes, Ph.D.

1004 – 7th Street #202

Anacortes, WA 98221

Phone: (360) 293-7023

To: Commissioner Ken Dahlstedt

      Commissioner Sharon Dillon

      Commissioner Ron Wesen

      Dale Pernula, Director, Planning & Development Services

      William Honea, Chief Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

cc: Gary Christensen, Manager, Planning & Development Services


I am submitting these comments on behalf of myself and Evergreen Islands as a partial response to the City of Anacortes petition #PL12-0258 to modify the Anacortes UGA boundary.  Other comments will also be submitted separately on various aspects of the same petition.  We ask that these comments be placed on the record of the Skagit County Board of Commissioners docketing hearing on PL12-0258.  We also ask that these comments be forwarded to the GMA Steering Committee for their deliberations on a PL12-0258 docketing recommendation to the Skagit County Commissioners.  We are also submitting these comments to Skagit County Planning & Development Services to assist the department in making their docketing recommendation to the Commissioners.  A hard copy will be submitted for the formal record. 

We request that the Skagit County Board of Commissioners reject PL12-0258 for docketing for the reasons stated here below.

SCC 14.08.020 (7) (b) (i) requires that a "detailed development proposal that is consistent with the applicable designation criteria" be submitted with any petition that includes a rezone proposal.  PL12-0258 is such a petition.  That which is required to be submitted as part of a petition is subject to review and comment during deliberations on that petition (Exhibit 1 - November 8, 2012, letter from Gerald Steel to Skagit County Commissioners). 

The detailed development proposal attached to PL12-0258 is commonly known as the Tethys development proposal as specified in the response to Section 3, question 1of the petition.

The Tethys development proposal will implement a water service agreement (contract) between the City of Anacortes and Tethys Enterprises, Inc. (Exhibit 2).  As discussed below, this water service agreement violates the comprehensive plans of the City of Anacortes and Skagit County.  Any action amending a comprehensive plan to facilitate the Tethys development proposal and water service agreement is subject to appeal for said violation.





The impact of coal trains from an orca’s point of view

by Rich Bergner Sunday, October 14, 2012 8:30 PM


(Guest Column published in the Skagit Valley Herald, Sunday, October 14, 2012)

RichBergnerThis is the first time I’ve written to the editor. I’m an orca, a member of J pod here in the waters of the San Juans. You shouldn’t be surprised that orcas can write. After all, you land folks have determined that corporations are people and money is speech. Let me tell you in a nutshell (or seashell) a very scary tale that is not a fairy tale.

Some very wealthy coal, railroad and financial corporations are proposing to dig up coal in vast areas of Wyoming; dump the clumps into open rail cars; haul it all the way to this part of the Northwest in 1.5-mile-long, 125-unit trains; dump all that black grit onto giant coal piles at Cherry Point; and then load it into mammoth, three-football-field-long cargo ships bound for China, India and Korea to feed their industries to outcompete us.



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