PI Letters to the Editor

Monday, April 23, 2001

Coast Guard is in ‘full reverse’ of its mission
Mike Barber’s article on the Coast Guard’s proposed closure of the La Push station occurred most appropriately on the 12th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. . It seems that a dozen years after the nation’s worst oil spill and two terms of a supposedly environmentally friendly administration, the Coast Guard is in full reverse.

The reason for the decision to abandon the base is completely consistent with the negligent way the Coast Guard has traditionally treated the western reaches of Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Coast. It has as much to do with the failure of our congressional delegation’s oversight of their operations as it does with its own biased decision-making process.

Part of the reason for the congressional inattention was due to the fact the delegation was so focused on getting money for light rail from the secretary of transportation that they had few political chips left to spend. There was also the problem of not wanting to be perceived as anything other than pro-trade and then there were the problems associated with fund raising and the fact that BP ended up giving the largest contribution to the Democratic National Convention. The Coast Guard’s analysis of the utilization of the bases assumes they are only for search and rescue missions without considering the potential to expand their roles to meet the Coast Guard’s other missions of marine environmental protection, fisheries law enforcement and defense readiness. Fortunately, Gov. Gary Locke and the state Senate have included $3 million in the state budget to keep the rescue tug in Neah Bay for two more winters.

It is now up to the House Appropriations Committee to hold up their end of the deal, for it is clear that we cannot expect leadership from the Coast Guard, Congress, or the administration.

Fred Felleman
Northwest director, Ocean Advocates

~ by fredfelleman on April 23, 2001.

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