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




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.



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 


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 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




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.



Tethys Bottling Plant: Anacortes Proposed UGA Expansion–Part 6

by Tom Glade Monday, October 1, 2012 11:49 PM

This post is the sixth installment of a series on the City of Anacortes’s problematic application to expand its urban growth area (UGA). The Conceptual Plant Layout included in the UGA Expansion application indicates that the rail yard for the 100-car unit trains will extend beyond the proposed UGA and into one of the County’s Rural Marine Industrial (RMI) zones.  In the following letter, Evergreen Islands expresses its concerns about the intrusion of the bottling plant site into one of  the County’s limited RMI zones.

To: Skagit County Commissioners                                         October 01, 2012
(Ken Dahlstedt, Sharon Dillon, Ron Wesen)
1800 Continental Place
Mount Vernon, WA 98273

Re: PL12-0258, Anacortes/Tethys UGA Expansion Application

Encroachment into the County’s Rural Marine Industrial Land.

Dear Commissioners:

Evergreen Islands is concerned about the threat to one of the County’s few industrial zones. The map in Figure 1 shows the location of the proposed UGA Expansion in relation to the Culbertson Rural Marine Industrial zone. The proposed site does not fit the configuration needed for a bottling plant

Figure 1. Map of the Anacortes Proposed UGA Expansion




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