March 16, 2016 | Press Release, Coal Stop
Whatcom County Citizen calls for House Committee on Ethics Investigation into Congressman Ryan Zinke
(Bellingham, WA) March 16, 2016 – Today, Blaine, Washington resident Sandy Robson, sent a certified letter to the United States House Committee on Ethics, calling upon the committee to open an investigation into Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MT), for potentially violating the United States House of Representatives Code of Official Conduct.
News media in Billings, Montana and Bellingham, Washington, reported that Congressman Zinke had sent a March 15, 2016 letter to Glenn Fine, the Acting Inspector General at the Department of Defense (DoD), asking for an official DoD investigation into Colonel John G. Buck, Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Seattle District, relating to his responsibilities on the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT).
The GPT project is a 48 million metric ton per year coal export terminal which, if built, would be sited at Cherry Point, in Whatcom County, Washington. The company proposing the coal export terminal is Pacific International Terminals (PIT), a subsidiary created for the GPT project by SSA Marine.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) is currently in the process of determining whether impacts to any tribes’ U&A (usual and accustomed) treaty fishing rights are more than de minimis, or too small or trivial to warrant legal review. In his March 15 letter to DoD Acting Inspector General Fine, Congressman Zinke said that two weeks ago he was informed by Colonel Buck that the Corps’ impending de minimis determination would be made by the end of March.
The de minimis determination process being conducted by the Corps stems from the January 5, 2015 letter from Lummi Indian Business Council Chairman Tim Ballew II which sent to the Corps, requesting the agency take action and immediately deny GPT applicant SSA Marine/Pacific International Terminals’ permit application for its proposed GPT project, “based, inter alia, on the project’s adverse impact on the treaty rights of the Lummi Nation.”
Treaty fishing rights of the Lummi are secured to them by the U.S. federal government in the Treaty of Point Elliott of 1855. Article 5 of the Treaty provides that, “The right of taking fish from usual and accustomed grounds and stations is further secured to said Indians in common with all citizens of the Territory. . .”
In his letter, the Montana Congressman accuses Colonel Buck of “overt political maneuvering” if the Corps were to issue a de minimis ruling before the agency would complete the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the proposed GPT project.
Congressman Zinke also claims that Colonel Buck “has sided with environmental interests without thorough consideration of the comprehensive data that will be revealed upon the completion of the draft EIS, which shatters all existing protocol.”
In leveling his accusations against Colonel Buck in his letter to the Inspector General of the DoD, Zinke did not provide any evidence to support his claims.
The Corps’ treaty trust responsibility is distinct from their documentation requirement under the National Environmental Polict Act (NEPA). While NEPA requires a review of the environmental impacts that would occur from approving a permit application, there is no need for the Corps to have completed the NEPA documentation in order to asses their trust responsibility.
Attached, is the March 16 letter from Sandy Robson to the House Committee on Ethics, asking the committee to open an investigation into Congressman Ryan Zinke relating to his recent actions.
Ms. Robson’s letter to the House Committee on Ethics detailed actions by Congressman Zinke that cause her to believe that he has intentionally misrepresented facts to the Inspector General of the DoD, and to the public at large, for the benefit of the companies and organizations involved in, and/or which have direct or indirect financial interests in the proposed GPT project, some of which are generous contributors to Mr. Zinke’s election campaign.
Ms. Robson also said in her letter that she believes Congressman Zinke has intentionally been misleading the public and our U.S. government to make it appear as though the Crow Nation were to have a present real ownership stake in GPT/Pacific International Terminals in an effort to influence governmental entities and the public, regarding the permitting phase of the GPT project.
Sandy Robson, 360-249-7241
Dena Jensen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Link to Congressman Ryan Zinke’s March 15, 2016 press release, “Zinke Calls for DoD Investigation into Col. Buck of Army Corps of Engineers”: https://zinke.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/zinke-calls-dod-investigation-col-buck-army-corps-engineers
Copy of the four page certified letter sent by Sandy Robson to the United States House Committee on Ethics, calling upon the committee to open an investigation into Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MT), for potentially violating the United States House of Representatives Code of Official Conduct:
Documents attached to the letter sent by Sandy Robson to United States House Committee on Ethics: