Seeking alternatives would stop mining

(Editor's note: The following letter was sent to King County Executive Ron Sims.)

Ron, why would you sell east King County's environmental birthright for a bowlful of gravel? Why would you sit on the board of directors of an organization called Mountains to Sound Greenway that professes to be environmental, but in reality perfectly forms the grease for the skids that Weyerhaeuser needs to keep its projects permitted and its stockholders happy? Why would you surprise one of your communities with your signature on a memorandum of understanding that puts the residents in harm's way? Is Weyerhaeuser that powerful a force that you would mold your integrity to fit its short-term thinking? I don't want to believe that.

I don't believe that you think the solution to King County's rate of nonrenewable resource consumption (gravel, in this case) and need for more industrial demolition and sewage waste sites is to endanger one of the region's largest aquifers and watersheds so the cycle of damage can continue and worsen. Have you read "Natural Capitalism" by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins yet? Just as the logical, long-term answer for America's consumption of any nonrenewable resource is to encourage the development of alternatives, the answer to King County's need for gravel and waste sites is to encourage anything that lessens the need - not prolongs it. I know you know that.

Who better for you to encourage to develop such alternatives than Weyerhaeuser? You just got re-elected. Clearly you're pals with them, being in Mountains to Sound Greenway together, and all. Insist that Weyerhaeuser bring its money and actions in line with its advertising mouth. You've got some time now to make a huge difference, one that could get both you and Weyerhaeuser national recognition. Please use your influence and power to encourage Weyerhaeuser to do the right thing for the long term while protecting your county's major aquifer in North Bend now. Use the law of supply and demand: If less gravel is available and it costs more to mine and deliver it, alternatives previously more costly will become attractive and more will naturally appear. Encourage the knowledgeable people and scientists in King County to get to work on it! What a difference you could make!

It's not your job to keep Weyerhaeuser or its stockholders happy. It's your job to keep King County heading in a direction that is safe for the long term. If Weyerhaeuser doesn't want to join with other long-term thinking industries, then kiss 'em goodbye!

Michelle Eastburn

North Bend

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