Return ethics to port’s public decision making

OlympiaJune 11, 2014 

There have been times when companies, unions and public entities have chosen a moral course instead of the most profitable one. Foreign countries and even companies have stopped exporting drugs to the U.S. used in lethal injection executions because of their moral questions.

The Longshore unions have a long history of refusing to move cargo based on concerns other than wages. Some of these include Tacoma workers refusing to unload hazardous waste destined to an Idaho landfill based on environmental concerns. The Longshore union also refused to unload cargo from countries oppressing the human rights of their people including Chile (1973), El Salvador (1989) and South Africa in the apartheid 1990s. They refused to load grapes in the farmworker grape boycott in the 1970s.

Now the Port of Olympia is facing some serious questions on its major shift to be part of oil and gas extraction fracking industry with storage and shipment of very large quantities of fracking proppants. We know the environmental impacts of fracking upon watersheds, native peoples, water quality, and fish and wildlife where they occur and adding to fossil fuel-induced climate change of our planet.

What does it mean for Port of Olympia to join into this oil and gas extraction gold rush? What role does the port play in the environmental consequences as a result? What is the moral thing for the port to do?

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