Jobs, the Economy, and the Environment

Image Credit: FerndaleMade.com

Allies are all around us. Effective leadership is needed to bridge the gaps rather than drive the wedges that divide us.

A Failure of Leadership

As an Environmental Engineer working at the BP Cherry Point refinery, I am in a somewhat unique position to see many sides of environmental conversations. I have a fundamental belief that developing allies is far better than finding enemies. Often, it is far easier to rally support when you are “anti” something. In an effort to advance a narrative, divisions are intentionally heightened, complex problems are distilled into simple talking points, and it becomes harder and harder to see the other side as reasonable or genuine. It is my view that this tactic is a failure of leadership and ultimately counterproductive. When we are talking about issues as important as the environment, this becomes a moral failure.

I have two examples that highlight this failure:

During a past candidate forum with refinery employees, one candidate said that they did not believe that global warming was real; going as far as dismissively saying that it just “gets warmer and colder.” Why did the candidate do this? I believe it was because they oversimplified the argument and assumed refinery employees must be in the climate-change denier camp. Had they valued data, facts, and logic over assumed political expediency, they may have found one of the many public comments from BP or P66 leadership such as the following from the Chairman of BP in the Financial Times:  “To be absolutely clear on our view: BP believes that the findings of climate scientists are real, as such it follows that the world needs to move to net-zero carbon emissions in the decades to come. The only uncertainty lies in the pace and nature of the energy transition.”

As a second example, I had a candid conversation with a strong voice in the environmental movement. The conversation was off the record, so I have no intention of revealing their name, but describing the conversation is valuable. We discussed current tactics being employed by the opposition to fossil fuel projects, including telling supporters to identify “villains.” The individual said that this tactic was not their first choice. In fact it was probably more like their fifth choice, but it was the only one that motivated people to take action. We then discussed the failed I-1631 carbon fee initiative, which this individual called a mish-mash of poorly written and poorly conceived ideas. What caught me off-guard was the next comment: “…but I would never say that in public.” Why is this environmental leader advocating for their fifth-choice tactic and why are they unwilling to talk about their true feelings in public? I believe it’s because they have oversimplified the argument and assumed environmental activists are not able to stay engaged while accepting this nuance.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with me! I am passionate about this topic. In both of these cases, leaders believed the ends justified the means, but they sacrificed the truth and the potential to find allies. Solutions are almost never as simple as many leaders claim. If we want to solve problems, we need nuance, we need honesty, and we need to be willing to find allies. Climate change is real and it will take all of us working together to solve it. Refinery workers and environmental activists are not enemies, they are in fact allies and I am committed to that mindset.

So how do we move forward? Together, because driving wedges isn’t working.

Lummi Nation and Ferndale

The impact of tribal gaming (and tribal businesses in general) is tremendous. Washington, for example, sees on the order of $5-10 billion (with a b!) annually in revenue, wages, and ripple-effect economic stimulation. As one of the largest local employers, Lummi Nation businesses are a key part of our local economy. The Lummi Nation has also been a large contributor to local charitable organizations. I am supportive of continued economic growth and building a strong partnership between the City of Ferndale and the Lummi Nation. Together, we can pursue and achieve mutually beneficial results!

Supporting Ferndale Businesses

Whenever possible, I prefer to shop, eat, and drink in Ferndale. When I do so, I know that I’m supporting local businesses, and encouraging future investment in our city. I believe that the City Council can work with local business owners to make doing business in Ferndale easier while at the same time decreasing the tax burden of Ferndale citizens. I look forward to strengthening the bonds between the Chamber of Commerce and the City Council. We can create more local jobs together.