I went to the CITIZENS FOR PORT/RAIL DEVELOPMENT meeting today at the Samoa Cookhouse. Found out that they are blogging now at the link I provided. Also saw on Cap's blog that the North Coast Rail Authority will start functioning on the southern portion of the rail system by October this year!
Humboldt Bay Recreation & Conservation District CEO David Hull said they are trying to tap into some of the “Stimulus” funds for Port Development, and have a huge advocate in Congressman Mike Thompson. Hull, Port Terminal supporters from RAPIT and union leaders met with Thompson to discuss funding for the Project. Mike’s District runs pretty close to most northern union districts, so leaders there represented about 45,000 workers who are interested in seeing some of the 3 Billion dollars in State Transportation stimulus monies creating jobs in Humboldt County. Thompson is going to help in any way he can.
Now the bad news
Hull said there is a Harbor budget meeting next Thursday that will be critical to the Harbor’s viability. He feels if they district loses any staff such as the bar pilots or others, this would have a huge snowball in shutting down the harbor district. If there is less than a million tons of product being distributed in shipping annually, there is a drop in funding for dredging. Less dredging, less certain ships that need deeper channels. Then fill in is a problem. And so on.
The Pulp Mill is a huge piece of the Harbor’s future. Meetings with Freshwater Pulp representatives revealed that product would not be leaving the local dock until October at the earliest. And this is contingent with Freshwater Pulp coming to an agreement/permit with the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board regulatory agency. The rescheduled public hearing to consider termination of the Evergreen Pulp/Freshwater Pulp NPDES permit, barring anything unforeseen, will occur on April 23 in Fortuna.
If either the Harbor District or the Pulp Mill do not continue operations, both will die. They are now pretty much bound together for survival.